Philly Halts Full Reopening Until at Least August; Recommends Travel Quarantine

A rise in daily new COVID-19 cases has prompted city officials to delay a previously expected move to a full green phase on July 3. A "pause" will last until at least Aug. 1.

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The City of Philadelphia is going to "pause" its reopening plan after cases rose in the last week as the city previously expected to allow local businesses to expand operations.

"The targets we laid out to go to green will not be met by this Friday," city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said at a press briefing Tuesday. "Our daily case count will not be below 80."

Indoor dining will not be permitted and gyms and fitness centers will not be allowed to open until Aug. 1, Farley said.

He did say that the city will continue with a "modified green" phase of Pennsylvania's reopening protocol, starting Friday, July 3. That means some attractions like museums, libraries and indoor shopping malls will be allowed to open to visitors. Small indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be permitted, the city said.

He added that city officials will re-examine the delay in these openings weekly.

The pause will affect the 4,200 restaurants in Philadelphia that offer indoor dining.

"It could overwhelm our hospital systems and cause increased deaths," Farley said of a full reopening.

There were 142 new cases reported Tuesday in Philadelphia, bringing the city's total to 26,133.

"Our cases are more likely to be younger people [now]," Farley said.

Pennsylvania, on a whole, has seen an increase in cases in recent days, according to state data.

Philadelphia, similar to New Jersey, is recommending a 14-day self-quarantine for people coming to the city or city residents returning home who have traveled to the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Philadelphia leaders are urging people not to travel to 15 states, mostly in the south and west, that have become coronavirus hot spots. People who come to Philly from those states are urged to self quarantine.

The City also urged people not to travel to those states.

Farley in an NBC10 interview on Monday pointed to a study conducted by the Health Department last week found that 78% of people inside retail stores wore masks and 55% wore masks on public transit.

The city last week instituted mandatory mask-wearing at indoor public settings as well as outdoor settings where social distancing is not possible. However, there is no enforcement of the new rule, officials said.

"I'm very worried that hospitals are going to become overwhelmed and any steps we take here are with that in mind," Farley said Monday. "We don’t want to become another Houston or another Miami."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also said Monday that plans to allow some indoor dining would be shelved for now.

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