HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – Gov. Tom Wolf announced the criteria the state will use and the metrics that will be required for lifting restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. The governor’s plan breaks into a color-coded road map with three phases.

“As I’ve said before, we will not flip a switch from closed to open,” Gov. Tom Wolf said at a Wednesday evening press conference.

The administration will first look at the north-central and northwest regions with the goal of lifting the stay-at-home restrictions by May 8. The state will also work with CMU to develop a “data-driven decision support tool” to help decide when its time to move a region or county into a new phase.

“May 8th is when we’re going to be starting and we’ll be rolling this out just as we closed down, in a phased way,” Wolf said.

Gov. Wolf says right now, the state is in a red phase, so there is a statewide stay-at-home order and nonessential businesses are closed. The governor’s color-coded plan will track states as they move from green, to yellow and then red.

He says the benchmark for reopening and returning to work, or the yellow phase, is for the population of a region to have an average of less than 50 cases per 100,000 individuals over the course of 14 days. That’s when stay-at-home restrictions will be lifted in favor of aggressive mitigation. Some restrictions will stay in place — like schools will be closed, telework must continue where “feasible” and large gatherings will be prohibited.

The Allegheny County Health Department released a statement about the governor’s plans, saying:

“The Health Department will be looking closely at the guidance coming from the state in the coming days as decisions are made regarding re-opening based upon an evaluation of the incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per capita in a region.

“Specifically, the expectation is that the region’s data – which is greater than Allegheny County – will need to reflect an average of less than 50 cases per 100,000 individuals over the course of 14 days to return to work.

“With an approximate 1.25 million residents in Allegheny County, that number would need to be less than 625 cases. In the past 14 days for which the Health Department has likely complete data (April 2 through April 15), we have 396 positive cases reported out of 4,746 tested, which is an 8.3% positivity rate. Based on that measurement alone, it appears as if the county would meet that threshold. However, we need more testing to have a better estimate of our case rate and our estimate does not address the other counties considered to be in the region that the state will be considering.

“Additionally, the state listed criteria related to testing, robust case investigation and tracing, and identification of high-risk settings, many of which were addressed by Dr. Bogen during today’s weekly briefing.

“We look forward to continuing to coordinate with the PA Department of Health and work towards having this county and our region reopen and transition back to work.”

When a region reaches the green phase, aggressive mitigation orders will be lifted but CDC guidelines will have to be adhered to.

“We might reopen some areas or some businesses only to have them close again if the virus begins to resurge,” Wolf said.

Here is the governor’s full plan:

Red Phase
Work & Congregate Setting 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

Yellow Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions

  • Telework Must Continue Where Feasible
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders
  • Child Care Open with Worker and Building Safety Orders
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools Remain Closed for In-Person Instruction

Social Restrictions

  • Stay at Home Restrictions Lifted in Favor of Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings of More than 25 Prohibited
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities (such as gyms, spas), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only

Green Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions

  • All Businesses Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines

Social Restrictions

  • Aggressive Mitigation Orders Lifted
  • All Individuals Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines

You can read the whole plan here.

Earlier this week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced small steps like lifting restrictions on online car sales, reopening some state stores for curbside pick-up and allowing construction to resume on May 8.

He called this a target date, saying restrictions will be lifted on an evidence-based, region-by-region approach. He said Wednesday this date may be moved.

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At that Monday press conference, Gov. Wolf said the amount of coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania have stabilized and that the state didn’t see an overwhelming of the healthcare system like health officials feared.

He has also said that as restrictions are lifted, life won’t look like what it did in February. As there’s no vaccine or cure for COVID-19, Gov. Wolf has said the state could see a surge in cases in the future.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

Shelby Cassesse