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Philadelphia Officials Delay Move To Green Phase Until July 3 As Surrounding Counties Go Green June 26

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The road to recovery from COVID-19 is getting shorter. The Philadelphia region is in its final week of yellow reopening restrictions.

On Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced southeastern Pennsylvania will move to the green phase next Friday.

Wolf says the next reopening phase is a testament to the sacrifices Pennsylvania residents and businesses have made over the past three months with the stay-at-home order.

It's all systems go for the Philadelphia region to move into the green phase of reopening on Friday, June 26. That's as long as the steady decline of COVID-19 cases continues.

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Wolf announced most restrictions will be lifted in southeastern Pennsylvania. That includes Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Bucks Counties.

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"It will be exciting next week to go to green. I'm thinking about the gym and my hair and the dog getting groomed all in the same day," Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia said.

In the green phase, all businesses can reopen and most restrictions are lifted. But people will still be required to wear masks and business will have to ensure social distancing.

"Green is not go back to normal. Green is go back to our new normal or go forward, I guess I should say, to our new normal," Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said.

Neil McShea, owner of Jack McShea's Pub on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, was pleasantly surprised when he learned he could return to indoor dining next Friday.

"I was thinking like later in July," McShea said.

Indoor dining still comes with some restrictions.

"The occupancy here is 130 so I guess that means we can seat about 60 people in here," McShea said.

Jack McShea's is located in Montgomery County and while Philadelphia County is also entering the green phase on June 26, his counterparts on the other side of City Line Avenue will not be able to open up their interiors so soon.

In Philadelphia, where there have been almost 25,000 COVID-19 cases, officials have decided to delay the state's green reopening status in the city until July 3.

"Philadelphia is uniquely at high risk here in the state of Pennsylvania. We are the biggest city, we had the highest case counts, we are the most densely populated, have a high poverty rate. We want to make sure we do this right and we protect our residents against a second wave," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.

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In a statement, Gov. Wolf said, "Philadelphia County met the criteria and will move to the state's green phase on June 26; however, local officials will maintain some additional restrictions until July 3. The Wolf Administration has supported specific county requests for more restrictions throughout the phased reopening process."

Those restrictions, requested by Mayor Jim Kenney, include the following businesses waiting until July 3 to resume operations:

  • Restaurants with indoor seating (with occupancy restrictions)
  • Outdoor group sports/activities
  • Gyms
  • Schools and colleges
  • Libraries and museums
  • Indoor shopping malls
  • Outdoor performances and small outdoor events (up to 50 people)

With cases trending down, the city will allow some locations to reopen on June 26, including
hair salons, private swim clubs and the Philadelphia Zoo.

"Being a business owner, I feel for any business owner that can't move on bringing their business back," McShea said.

McShea hopes that loyal customers will help Philly businesses push through that additional week. As for him, well it's time to put the family to work.

"I've had my one daughter coming in but I think we are going to get the two of them in here, scrubbing the floors and scrubbing the bar," he said.

High-risk activities, such as casinos and large concerts, will remain closed in Philadelphia until further notice.

In New Jersey, many businesses will be allowed to reopen Monday, and Delaware is already in its second phase of reopening businesses.

CBS3's Stephanie Stahl and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.
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