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Green Does Not Mean Go: A Guide to Pennsylvania's Green Phase


As our region joins other Pennsylvania counties in the green phase of COVID-19 recovery, people are looking forward to doing more activities than before. The green phase means restaurants can offer indoor seating, and many other businesses, including salons, gyms and movie theaters, are reopening. But as you might expect, things are not going back to normal for a while. Businesses are operating with new expectations of cleanliness and social distancing, and everyone needs to continue taking measures to slow the spread. Not only do we know that this reopening may lead to another spike in COVID-19 cases, we have seen it happen in other states that have reopened before us. We talked with Amy Slenker, MD, Vice-Chair, Quality and Patient Safety for the Department of Medicine with LVPG Infectious Diseases, to provide tips on navigating this new world and what we can do to keep our community moving in the right direction.

What are some changes in the green phase of recovery?

  • All businesses operating at 50% occupancy in the yellow phase may increase to 75% occupancy

  • Large gatherings of more than 250 are prohibited

  • Restaurants and bars may open at 50% occupancy

  • Personal care services (including hair salons and barbershops) may open at 50% occupancy and by appointment only

  • Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities and personal care services (such as gyms and spas) may open at 50% occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged

  • All entertainment (such as casinos, theaters and shopping malls) may open at 50% occupancy

  • Construction activity may return to full capacity with continued implementation of protocols

How can I safely eat at a restaurant?

The safest way to eat food prepared by a restaurant is to order it to go. If you want to eat at the restaurant, it’s best to sit outside.

You can try to avoid crowds by dining at little-known restaurants or even choosing to visit before or after the usual rush. If you walk in and see that social distancing isn’t possible, don’t be afraid to choose another option and remember to wash your hands.

How can I safely get together with family?

In the green phase, groups of more than 250 are prohibited, but that does not mean groups of 250 or fewer are safe. If you want to gather, try to keep the group small. Consider wearing a mask if you are meeting with loved ones who live outside your household, especially if any of your family members are in a high-risk category for complications. While together, do not share drinks or food and sit outside if possible.

How can I stay safe on public transportation?

If you need to take public transportation, always wear your mask and, if you can, open a window. Keep hand sanitizer with you and regularly disinfect your hands. If you take public transportation, try to avoid visiting loved ones who are in high-risk categories for complications from COVID-19.

How can I safely visit the salon or spa?

Before you visit a salon or spa, ask your salon about its cleaning practices and how many people are scheduled to be in the building during your appointment. Remember to wear a face mask during your appointment.

How can I safely shop?

Just like with salons and restaurants, it’s best to visit stores when they are less busy. While in the store, keep your face mask on and don’t touch your face. Remember to stay at least 6 feet from others, even while waiting in lines.

How can I be safe during my hotel stay?

Before you plan your trip, call your hotel to ask what it is doing to keep rooms clean and guests safe. Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than by touching objects and surfaces, but for additional peace of mind, you can wipe down commonly touched surfaces after checking in. Avoid gathering in small areas for continental breakfast and remember to practice social distancing at your hotel’s pool.

How can I safely attend my place of worship?

Many places of worship are implementing safety measures to encourage healthy habits during the pandemic, but it is important to continue practicing the principles you already know – wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, wear a face mask and stay home if you’re feeling ill. While in the group, remain socially distant by maintaining 6 feet of space between you and others. Additionally, worship services that involve singing can increase your risk of infection, so it is best to discuss with your place of worship how it plans to address this issue.

Check with your place of worship to see if it offers a remote option through a Zoom or video call. This can be a good replacement, especially if you are at risk for complications from COVID-19.

Is it safe to go to a movie theater?

Before visiting your local movie theater, weigh the pros and cons. Could you watch a different movie at home? Would it be OK to see this movie when it’s released for purchase? If you decide to go to the theater, make sure not to sit near others outside of your group. Consider wearing your mask through the entire movie and avoid touching your face.