HARRISBURG, PA — Philadelphia and its surrounding counties will move to the yellow phase of coronavirus mitigation on June 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday.
Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties — among the final 18 counties that remain in red— have been under a stay-at-home order since March 23 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Berks, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton will also move to yellow on June 5.
Some of the 18 counties that remain in red will be moved to yellow earlier than the Philadelphia region. Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, and Schuylkill will move to yellow on May 29.
The reopening is part of a three-phased plan that designates each county as red, yellow or green. The color designation determines what mitigation measures previously set to stop the spread of the virus can be lifted.
In the yellow phase, stay-at-home orders are lifted but large gatherings of 25 or more people are prohibited. Retail stores may reopen but with curbside and delivery the preferred method of operation. Gyms, spas, and entertainment venues like theaters and casinos will remain closed in the yellow phase. Restaurants will still be limited to carry out or delivery.
The governor said 17 counties will move into the green phase on May 29. Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren are among those to move to the green phase.
"While these counties will see a return to near normalcy, some precautions will continue," Wolf said.
In the green phase, restaurants and bars can reopen but large events, like concerts, will be restricted. Nursing home visitation will continue to be restricted under the green phase.
The virus so far has infected more than 66,000 Pennsylvanians. The state's death toll is now at 4,984, with 3,275 of them occurring in nursing homes.
According to state data, there have been sustained reductions in hospitalizations. From May 8 — when the first counties moved to yellow — to yesterday, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized dropped from 2,618 to 1,667.
Cases continue to be on the decline. From May 8 to 15, there were 6,384 cases. From May 15 to 21, there were 4,770 new cases.