PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf will lift most of his pandemic restrictions in another 16 counties that are home to nearly 3 million people across western and central Pennsylvania, including much of the Pittsburgh area.

The counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

These 16 counties will move next Friday to the so-called “green” phase, the phase with the fewest restrictions in the governor’s stoplight-colored three-phase reopening plan. The announcement comes as the first round of counties are entering the green phase today.

On June 5, the remaining counties in the phase with the most restrictions — the red phase — will move to yellow.

The governor held a press conference at 2 p.m. to make the announcement.

“We’ve had some great success here, things like wearing masks and the work of our hospital systems and our local officials,” Gov. Tom Wolf says.

He also says the state has expanded its testing capabilities, and it can now test up to 13,000 tests per day at more than 300 sites.

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Contact tracing has also been expanded, Gov. Wolf says, so every single new and diagnosed case can be investigated.

“It is important we continue to act with caution, especially as we reopen,” Gov. Wolf said.

“Let’s remember how quickly this virus spread back in March when it arrived because we were not taking precautions. We weren’t wearing masks back then, we weren’t exercising social distancing, we weren’t staying at home. We needed to buy time, and we did that. But before we bought time, before we were successful, we saw six weeks of exponential growth of this virus.”

He says while “we can’t isolate ourselves forever,” there still aren’t enough tests and there is no vaccine “so we need to continue to be careful.”

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All of Southwestern Pennsylvania, except Beaver County, moved to the “Yellow Phase” on May 15.

To go green, Beaver County must show no spikes for two weeks after moving to yellow.

Gov. Wolf released updated guidelines for the “green” phase on Wednesday.

Businesses closed in “red” and “yellow” phases — like restaurants, hair salons, gyms, theaters and shopping malls — may reopen at 50 percent occupancy.

Personal services like hair salons may open and take clients by appointment only, while gatherings up to 250 people are allowed. You can read all of the governor’s guidelines here.

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials only hope this new phase doesn’t come too late for some business to survive.

“It’s probably going to be a case-by-case basis, some of them I’m sure it’s going to be very, very difficult, but at least they know that next week there’s going to be an opportunity to open up,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says.

“What we want to do is offer anything that we can in the way of public space, public right of ways — anything the city government can do to help our local small businesses have a successful summer,” says Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

In “green” counties, people are still expected to follow CDC guidelines, wear masks in public and practice social distancing.

The governor encouraged people to continue to wear masks. “I don’t know why, but wearing masks have been politicized,” he say.

“If all us take the simple steps of wearing a mask, staying home while we can — especially when we’re sick — and practicing social distancing tactics, we’re going all work together to succeed in eliminating the spread of COVID-19. It will make a huge contribution to getting our Commonwealth back on track.”

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

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