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Philadelphia Health Commissioner Doubles Down On COVID-19 Warnings As July 4th Weekend Begins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- As we start the July 4th holiday weekend, a new kind of freedom comes to Philadelphia with the lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions. The city has entered its newest phase of reopening with an ominous warning from the health commissioner.

The coronavirus is skyrocketing in some parts of the country. Numbers in the tri-state region have also gone up, but they're not surging -- but that could happen if safety precautions aren't followed.

Freedom in 2020 finds the country in the grips of a pandemic. Liberty noted with caution on Independence Mall as Philadelphia celebrates July 4th with another round of COVID-19 restrictions being lifted.

"We would recommend over this holiday weekend, people stay home," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. "You don't want to be exposed to the virus over this weekend."

REOPENING GUIDE: Current COVID-19 Guidelines for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware

Farley is warning that with COVID-19 cases increasing mainly among young people, traditional July 4th activities could be dangerous.

"Getting together for social events, getting together for a barbecue, could be risky because someone might have the infection," Farley said, "or certainly staying at a beach house, or going to a restaurant."

In crowds, the virus easily spreads from person to person, usually by someone who doesn't have symptoms.

What's safe?

In a pool, the water isn't dangerous -- it's the other people potentially. Same goes for taking walks -- stay away from people not in your family.

"I know it's tough, but people need to continue to be careful," Farley said.

When asked if he believes there could be coronavirus surges in Philadelphia like there is in other parts of the country, Farley said, "it's definitely possible."

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That's why now, there are more travel restrictions. People coming from hot spots need to self-quarantine.

In Philadelphia, many other restrictions are now lifted. Libraries are allowed to open, but they say they're not ready. Other openings include outdoor sports and group recreation, schools, museums, indoor malls, small outdoor events (up to 50 people) and casinos (no eating, drinking, or smoking).

"Wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands," Farley said.

Farley said he's going to stay home and spend time with his family over the holiday weekend.

Philadelphia is keeping some restrictions in place and will not allow the reopening of indoor dining and bars, gyms, theaters and large events.

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