PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Next Friday, 17 counties are moving into the “green” phase of Gov. Wolf’s reopening phase where aggressive mitigation is lifted.

On May 29, Wolf said these counties are moving to “green,” the least restrictive phase of his reopening plan: Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren. All of them are lightly populated counties across a northern swath of the state.

In the green phase, restaurants and bars, salons and barber shops, gyms, theaters, malls and casinos can all open at 50% capacity, Wolf’s reopening plan says. People will still be asked to wear masks in public and observe social distancing, Wolf said, and concerts, sporting events and other large gatherings “will continue to be restricted.”

“The 17 counties going to green have been able to maintain the yellow metrics for 14 days, showing they are ready to make this move to the green phase,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

The governor also said eight additional counties will move into the “yellow” on May 29. All remaining counties in the “red” phase are expected to move to yellow by June 5, Gov. Wolf said.

Allegheny County and other southwestern counties are currently in their first full week of yellow, with Beaver County joining the region today. There are 49 counties in the yellow phase now, and Wolf says by next Friday, 57 total counties will be in yellow.

In the yellow phase, the stay-at-home order is lifted in favor of aggressive mitigation. In the green phase, aggressive mitigation is lifted and all businesses and individuals must follow CDC and state Department of Health guidelines.

While the north central and northwestern counties will go green, our region will remain in the yellow phase. The number of new virus cases in our region continues to decline. Allegheny County has had less than 20 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, which is well below the state standard for reopening of 50 cases per 100,000.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says the governor would like to see a full 14 days in the yellow phase before moving to green.

“Hopefully next Friday, we would anticipate that if we continue to see our numbers be where they are, that southwestern Pa. and particularly Allegheny County would move into the green phase as well,” says Fitzgerald.

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And while stores and day cares are reopening, businesses that require direct contact with are stuck at the starting gate. Restaurants, hair salons and health clubs say their businesses are dying on the vine.

Small business owners have told KDKA they will soon reopen with or without the approval of Gov. Wolf.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he believes these businesses will be getting relief soon.

“I hold out a lot of hope for our friends in the restaurants business, the hair salons, the gyms — the folks who really want to open up, I’m guessing another week we’ll get the right decision,” says Fitzgerald.

Along with more guidance to businesses next week, the Wolf administration also will release guidance for professional, amateur and youth sports leagues and venues to resume operating, a spokesperson said.

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