Wolf: York County entering green phase next Friday

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference in Harrisburg in March.

York County is slated to enter the green phase of reopening next Friday, meaning the rollback of Gov. Tom Wolf's most aggressive COVID-19 mitigation efforts and the reopening of all businesses.

Wolf on Friday announced York County will be one of 12 counties to move into the phase next week. So far, 34 counties are in the green phase and 33 are in the yellow phase after the governor on Thursday amended his phase order. 

The other counties that will enter the green phase next Friday are Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Northumberland, Union, Wayne and Lycoming.

"While we’ve reopened PA, we still have continued to see a decline in new infection," Wolf said Friday. "This is really great progress."

Wolf's move will largely release York from a lockdown that's persisted for almost three months and hit the local economy hard. Wolf first announced the sweeping business closures March 16. 

More:Coronavirus pandemic: Here's what York County's data looks like

More:York City mayor rescinds all of his COVID-19-related restrictions

The green phase puts an end to aggressive mitigation efforts and allows all businesses to reopen — although most businesses would be required to limit occupancy to 75%.

Bars, restaurants, entertainment facilities, indoor recreational facilities and personal care services would have to operate at 50% occupancy.

Residents would still be advised to abide by guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Gatherings of 250 or more would also be prohibited.

The state would then adjust orders and restrictions as necessary.

On Thursday, Wolf's stay-at-home order expired for all counties regardless of phase. However, he extended his disaster declaration for an additional 60 days.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich rescinded his disaster declaration Friday.

Helfrich, who oversees a city that has already seen millions in lost tax revenue, had been betting on York County entering the green phase next.

The mayor, along with York County Economic Alliance President Kevin Schreiber, has said entering the green phase will undoubtedly bolster the county's hamstrung economy.

As of April, the county's unemployment rate is 14.9%, just short of the state's 15.1%.

It is unclear, however, how quickly the economy will bounce back, as that will depend on consumer confidence, Helfrich and Schreiber said.

"We’re all different as a result of this crisis,” Schreiber said. “It will reshape our landscape slightly. We as a population have changed. Consumer spending will likely change. I think COVID has changed this world, and that new version of normal is post-COVID.”

As of noon Sunday, there were 1,082 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in York County and 29 deaths linked to the virus. However, there were only two new cases confirmed Friday by the state, a continuation of a downward trend in infections. 

Statewide, there were 75,592 cases and 5,943 deaths.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.