Philadelphia

Philly Could Move Into ‘Green' Phase of COVID-19 Reopening Plan By July 3

The move will be contingent on a four-week decline in new coronavirus cases, and officials warn that carelessness could force them to pull back

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What to Know

  • Philadelphia officials are targeting July 3 as the date by which the city will move into the "green" phase of the state coronavirus reopening plan.
  • Under the “green” phase, Philadelphia will see the opening of indoor shopping malls, libraries, museums, gyms, schools, colleges and restaurants with occupancy restrictions.
  • Some businesses – including residential swimming pools and private swim clubs, salons, barbershops, spas, gyms and outdoor areas of zoos – may restart as early as June 26 if given the OK by the state.

Philadelphia may move to the final phase of the state coronavirus reopening plan as early as July 3, city officials said Thursday.

The move will be contingent on a four-week decline in coronavirus cases, with the city having to see fewer than 80 new daily cases or fewer than 4% of positive results if more than 2,000 tests are administered per day.

Guidelines for reopening are laid out in Philadelphia’s “Reopening with Care” strategy.

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Under the “green” phase, Philadelphia will see the opening of indoor shopping malls, libraries, museums, gyms, schools, colleges and restaurants with occupancy restrictions. More outdoor youth and recreational sports, as well as small outdoor events, will be allowed too.

However, Dr. Thomas Farley, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, stressed that the city’s guidelines will be stricter than those imposed by the state.

“Green in Philadelphia will be more restrictive than green in the rest of Pennsylvania, both in what activities are allowed and how they must take place,” he said.

“The key word here is ‘carefully,’” Farley said of the city’s approach to moving into the green phase.

While announcing 68 new positive cases and 10 additional deaths – which took the total number of infections to at least 24,723 and the number of deaths to at least 1,513 – the commissioner thanked residents for their success in helping to dramatically reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In mid-April, Philadelphia was averaging about 600 new cases a day and seeing about 40% of tests come back positive, Farley said. Now, new cases are down to about 80 a day while test results are coming back positive only about 3% of the time.

“The people of Philadelphia didn’t just flatten the curve, you suppressed the virus and in the process saved thousands of lives,” Farley said.

He emphasized that moving into the green phase will still require people to observe public health precautions like social distancing and the wearing of masks. Not doing so, he said, could trigger another spike in cases the likes of which states like Arizona and North Carolina have recently experienced, and could force Philadelphia to impose strict restrictions yet again.

“Our own actions will determine whether or not we will continue to move forward or not, and as you’ve seen in other areas of the country, that irresponsibility has set them back, so let's not go there,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Should progress continue, some businesses – including residential swimming pools and private swim clubs, salons, barbershops, spas, gyms and outdoor areas of zoos – may restart as early as June 26 if given the OK by the state.

Other businesses, though, will not restart right away, even when Philadelphia does enter the green phase, because they have a higher likelihood of spreading the virus. Those include casinos, theaters, restaurants and bars with indoor seating but no occupancy restrictions, large outdoor events of more than 50 people, in-person conventions or conferences, religious and social gatherings of more than 25 people and senior services like adult day care.

The city will determine when the aforementioned businesses and activities may restart based on overall trends of the outbreak, Farley said.

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