On Friday, May 22, 2020, Governor Wolf made several significant announcements regarding additional counties set to reopen in Pennsylvania in the next few weeks. First, the Governor announced that on May 29 the following 8 counties will move to the “Yellow” phase. The additional “Yellow” counties (see list here) includes Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre.
The Governor also announced that the 11 remaining “Red” counties will transition to the “Yellow” phase no later than June 5. This includes Philadelphia and its suburbs in the Southeast, and Allentown and Scranton in the Northeast.
As a reminder (and as discussed previously here), the Governor of Pennsylvania previously released guidance for businesses in “Yellow” counties and this guidance is applicable to businesses located in all current and future “yellow” counties. In the guidance, the administration made clear that even businesses in regions that have entered the “Yellow” phase must continue to telework to the extent possible before reopening in-person operations and relying on this guidance.
Businesses choosing to reopen must abide by the previously-issued Business Safety Order (discussed here) and Building Safety Order (available here). The new guidance also includes very specific information regarding the following employee and customer safety requirements: (1) cleaning and disinfecting premises, (2) limiting the number of employees in common areas and customers on premises, (3) providing masks and sanitizing supplies for employees, (4) installing shields or other barriers at registers and checkout areas to physically separate cashiers and customers, and (5) creating a plan in case a business is exposed to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, among other provisions.
Notably, the guidance provides that relevant businesses must print, sign, and post the “COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses” flyer on their premises in employee common spaces and, if serving the public, near the business’s public entrance. The flyer must indicate the “Pandemic Safety Officer,” who is designated by the business to be in charge of carrying out the COVID-19 safety procedures set forth in the guidance.
Finally, but equally critically, the Governor also announced today that the following 17 counties will move to the “Green” phase of the state’s reopening plan on May 29: Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren. This is the first announcement granting a Pennsylvania county the “Green” light. As a reminder, per the administration's prior guidance, the counties that transition to the Green phase no longer have to abide by the strict mitigation measures currently in place even in the Yellow phase, and all businesses in such counties will be able to reopen, though they will be required to abide by CDC and PA Department of Health guidelines.
Seyfarth continues to monitor the Wolf Administration’s business-related orders in response to COVID-19 and will provide further updates as available.