Monroe and Pike counties will go green with six others as of Friday, June 19, Governor Tom Wolf announced June 12.
On Friday, Wolf announced that eight counties – Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Monroe, Perry, Pike and Schuylkill – will shift from the yellow to the green phase of the governor’s color-coded reopening strategy.
"In Pennsylvania, not only did we flatten the curve, but we are continuing to keep case counts down even as we open our commonwealth," Wolf said. "We will continue to take a measured, phased approach to reopening that relies on science and health experts."
As of June 12, 46 of the commonwealth’s counties are in the green phase, and 21 are in the yellow phase.
In the northeast region, Carbon, Wayne, and Wyoming counties turned green on June 12. Lackawanna, Lehigh, Northampton and Susquehanna counties remain in the yellow phase.
According to the Department of Health’s Pennsylvania County Dashboard, Monroe, Pike and the other soon-to-be green counties met four metrics – including stable, decreasing or low COVID-19 case counts for the past two weeks as compared to the previous two weeks, proof of contact tracing efforts that are in effect or are being implemented, proof that less than 10% of the total number of people who had a PCR test for COVID-19 were confirmed positive, and confirmation that less than 90% of regional hospital beds are currently occupied – in order to shift to the new phase.
Monroe County had only 29 cases of COVID-19 confirmed over the past two weeks, the Department of Health reported, while Pike had only six cases in the same time frame.
The green phase lifts most of the restrictions implemented in earlier phases, though some remain in effect.
In the green phase, all businesses that were operating at 50% occupancy in the yellow phase may increase to 75% occupancy, though businesses with in-person operation must follow update safety requirements. Telework is still strongly encouraged, when possible.
Personal care services – including hair salons, barbershops, etc. – may reopen at 50% occupancy, but by appointment only. Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, gyms and spas can also open at 50% capacity, with appointments strongly encouraged.
All entertainment facilities, including casinos, theaters and shopping malls can reopen at 50% capacity as well. Construction activity may return to full capacity with continued implementation of protocols. Child care centers may open under compliance with suggested guidance.
However, large gatherings of more than 250 people are still prohibited, masks will still be required when entering a business, and congregate care restrictions will remain in place, though prison and hospital restrictions may be determined by individual facilities.
Pocono Raceway will host NASCAR races in Long Pond on June 26-28 but will continue without fans as previously announced.
In response to fan inquiries regarding fan access, the facility cited Wolf’s May 27 guidance in a statement, noting that Pocono Raceway is regarded as a professional sports venue and cannot host fans at this time.
Wolf’s administration has yet to release details about what happens after the green phase of the reopening process, though he has assured the public that the issue is being addressed.
As of June 12, the Department of Health counted 77,999 cases of COVID-19 across the commonwealth, with 6,162 deaths due to the virus.
The New York Times has reported that Pennsylvania is one of 22 states and territories where new COVID-19 case counts are actually declining over the past two weeks, while 23 states and territories have seen increases, and eight states and territories’ counts have largely remained the same.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, along with numerous other health officials, has advised that even as Pennsylvania moves toward a complete reopening as case counts drop, mitigation tactics are still necessary to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
"Each of us has a responsibility to continue to protect ourselves, our loved ones and others by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and washing our hands frequently," Levine said "Together we can protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our essential workers and our healthcare system."
Pocono Record sports writer Zach Sturniolo contributed to this report.