Philly nears partial reopening of Yellow Phase

Mayor Jim Kenney hasn't said whether protests will delay the city's plans to partially reopen this weekend. It’s expected that further announcements about the “Yellow Phase” will occur later this week.
PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

Even as protests against police brutality and the resulting unrest has sapped attention away from the COVID-19 pandemic, Philadelphia is still scheduled to enter the first phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s virus recovery plan Friday.

Mayor Jim Kenney hasn’t said whether the demonstrations will delay the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions.

“We’ll have to see what happens today, tonight, tomorrow, Friday to see where we’re at from a crowd point of view, but the numbers are looking better and better each day,” he said Wednesday.

It’s expected that further announcements about the “Yellow Phase” will occur later this week, a Kenney spokesman told Metro.

Philadelphia reported 126 new coronavirus cases Wednesday and 34 additional fatalities, bringing the city’s death toll to 1,324.

The city’s health experts estimate that 10 percent of Philadelphians have been infected with COVID-19. It remains unclear whether mass protests will lead to a spike in cases.

Whenever the city moves to yellow, it will bring a significant change, as the stay-at-home order will be lifted and many businesses will be allowed to resume in-person operations.

City officials are taking a cautious approach and have even named their plan “Safer At Home.”

Many businesses now have boarded up windows to help protect against widespread looting that has occurred throughout the city this week. PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

Gatherings of more than 25 people will still be prohibited, and the city is recommending people stay away from groups of any kind, though several houses of worship plan to restart services this weekend.

In addition, barber shops, nail salons, gyms, museums, indoor shopping malls and some other businesses will have to wait for the less-restricted Green Phase before opening.

Restaurants in Philadelphia are now able to offer walk-in take-out, but sit-down service, including outdoor dining, remains banned for the time being. The city was expected to announce guidelines for outdoor dining this week, but those have not materialized.

Retailers can open, though the city is urging them to offer curbside pick-up and delivery if possible.

Any businesses that have been operating remotely must continue to do so, according to Kenney’s Yellow Phase order.

Childcare centers, outdoor youth day camps, parks and related amenities, banks, car dealerships, manufacturers, warehouses, and office-based workplaces where telework is not feasible will be able resume operations. City playgrounds will also reopen.

Stores may only allow five customers for every 1,000 square feet of shopping area. The same restriction is in place for offices regarding the number of employees allowed inside.

Employers must mandate masks for all employees and customers, and public-facing businesses will be required to install plexiglass barriers between clerks and customers.

Hand washing or sanitizer stations must be installed at entryways and outside bathrooms, and high-touch surfaces have to be disinfected at least every four hours, according to the order.

For detailed guidance and industry-specific rules, visit www.phila.gov/guides/safer-at-home.

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