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From the archives 2020

Red, yellow, green: What to expect in each of Pa.’s tiers for reopening

by Spotlight PA Staff |

Some counties will enter the "green" phase this Friday.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Philadelphia Inquirer

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Updated, May 27

HARRISBURG — As some counties prepare to enter the “green” phase of Pennsylvania’s tiered reopening plan, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has updated its guidance on what residents in those areas can and can’t do.

Officials have also announced that limited outdoor dining will be allowed in the more restrictive “yellow” phase staring June 5. By that date, the entire state is expected to be in that phase.

Under the new guidance, bars and restaurants may serve customers outside if:

  • Customers are seated at tables only

  • Customers wear masks unless seated

  • Tables are placed at least six feet apart

  • The facility limits occupancy

Here’s more on what you can expect in each phase.


This is the most stringent phase created under a statewide stay-at-home order.

Workplace restrictions

  • Life sustaining businesses only

  • Congregate care and prison restrictions in place

  • Schools (for in-person instruction) and most child care facilities closed

Social restrictions

  • Stay at home orders in place

  • Large gatherings prohibited

  • Restaurants and bars limited to carry-out and delivery only

  • Only travel for life-sustaining purposes encouraged


In this phase, state officials will ease some restrictions and allow more businesses to open, but customers can still expect mitigation efforts such as curbside pickup/delivery only and potential limitations on the number of people allowed in store. Closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, hair and nail salons, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place.

Workplace restrictions

  • Telework must continue where feasible

  • Businesses with in-person operations must follow business and building safety orders

  • Child care open complying with guidance

  • Congregate care and prison restrictions in place

  • Schools remain closed for in-person instruction

Social restrictions

  • Stay at home order lifted for aggressive mitigation

  • Large gatherings of more than 25 prohibited

  • In-person retail allowable, curbside and delivery preferable

  • Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities and personal care services (such as gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons and other entities that provide massage therapy), and all entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) remain closed

  • Restaurants and bars limited to carry-out and delivery only, or outdoor dining with certain restrictions


This phase removes most restrictions placed upon business operations and social guidelines, though safety guidelines implemented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health must be followed. This phase is considered the “new normal.”

Workplace and congregate setting restrictions

  • Continued telework strongly encouraged

  • Businesses with in-person operations must follow updated business and building safety requirements

  • All businesses operating at 50% occupancy in the yellow phase may increase to 75% occupancy

  • Child care may open complying with guidance

  • Congregate care restrictions in place

  • Prison and hospital restrictions determined by individual facilities

  • Schools subject to CDC and commonwealth guidance

Social restrictions

  • Large recreational gatherings remain restricted. Any gathering for a planned or spontaneous event of greater than 250 individuals is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, a concert, festival, fair, conference, sporting event, movie showing, or theater performance

  • Restaurants and bars open at 50% occupancy

  • Personal care services (including hair salons and barbershops) open at 50% occupancy and by appointment only

  • Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, and personal care services (such as gyms and spas) open at 50% occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged

  • All entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) open at 50% occupancy

  • Construction activity may return to full capacity with continued implementation of protocols

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