Philly targets July 3 for move to Green Phase

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Philadelphia is on track to move to the “Green Phase” of Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus reopening plan July 3, officials said Thursday, though the city will have more restrictions than the rest of the state.

Nail salons, barber shops, spas and swim clubs will be allowed to begin operations next Friday, along with the outdoor portions of the Philadelphia Zoo.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the city’s progress is a “huge success,” and he praised residents for following COVID-19-related guidelines.

“People in Philadelphia didn’t just flatten the curve,” he said. “You suppressed the virus and in the process saved thousands of lives.”

In the Green Phase, gyms, schools, colleges, libraries, museums and indoor shopping malls will be permitted to reopen, according to the city’s plan, which was published Thursday.

Restaurants will be able to open for indoor dining at limited capacity, and outdoor performances and events with 50 people or less will also be allowed.

Detailed guidance for businesses will be released next week, officials said.

Casinos, indoor theaters and adult daycares, which are allowed under Wolf’s Green Phase plan, will be required to remain closed, officials said. The state’s guidelines also allow for gatherings of up to 250 people.

Farley said it’s “very likely” Wolf will make an announcement Friday that Philadelphia’s collar counties can move to the Green Phase next Friday.

City leaders couched the good news with warnings and said they would push back the move if there’s a spike in cases.

“Our actions each day will determine whether we are indeed able to take that next step,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

“If we see signs of increased viral spread, we may have to close activities again,” Farley said. “We may even have to go back to yellow.”

Philadelphia reported 68 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and 10 additional fatalities, bringing the city’s death toll to 1,513. About 450 people are hospitalized with the virus in southeastern Pennsylvania, including 238 in the city.

The city’s benchmark for entering the Green Phase is registering less than 80 cases a day or, if more than 2,000 people are being tested each day, recording a positive rate of 4 percent or less.

For the past two days, about 3 percent of results reported to the Department of Public Health have come back positive.

Farley said the most important goal is a downward trend in the case count for four consecutive weeks after June 5, when Philadelphia lifted some restrictions and entered the Yellow Phase.

“Many of these targets we have met already or are likely to meet soon, so we’re very close,” Farley said. “I am optimistic that we will meet the targets and be able to open to green” on July 3.

In addition, officials are hoping to ramp up contact tracing efforts and interview 70 percent of people newly diagnosed with COVID-19 and get in touch with 40 percent of their contacts and get them to agree to quarantine by the time the city enters the Green Phase.

As of this week, tracers have been reaching to about 20 percent of people who test positive and contacting 15 percent of people who have been close to them.

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