HARRISBURG, Pa .– Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Tuesday that his office will lift COVID-19 mitigation orders, with the exception of the masking order, on Memorial Day.
Wolf said in a press release that the current order requiring residents of the state to wear a mask will be lifted once 70% of Pennsylvanians aged 18 and over are fully immunized. Currently, masks should be worn indoors and outdoors when you are not at home.
>> RELATED HEADLINE: Stimulus News: Over 2 million people sign petition asking Congress for recurring stimulus checks
“What this announcement means is that on Memorial Day, life is basically getting back to normal,” said State Representative Tim O’Neal.
Requirements such as screening and new case reporting will remain in place for hospitals and long-term care facilities. Maintaining the requirements for hospitals and long-term care facilities will allow Pennsylvania to continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 while lifting other restrictions.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that residents refer to the advice and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control regarding current COVID-19 safety measures and procedures. Municipalities and school districts will be allowed to enforce stricter rules if they feel the need.
Pennsylvania crossed the 50% immunization threshold on Monday, which means at least half of the state’s residents reported having at least one dose of the vaccine. Reaching 70%, however, could be a challenge as medical experts say it will be an uphill battle.
In March, Wolf changed the state’s COVID-19 orders. Maximum capacity limits for indoor events were set at 15% and masks always had to be worn. Outdoor sites could have up to 20% capacity. Out-of-state travel restrictions were also lifted at that time.
Last week, the state again amended the orders to bring them in line with CDC requirements, allowing fully vaccinated people to go mask-less with other fully vaccinated people inside.
It’s the the original state order outlining COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Allegheny County leader Rich Fitzgerald issued a statement calling Wolf’s announcement “good news for this state”:
“Today’s announcement by the governor is good news for this state and county. I congratulate Governor Wolf and his team for all of their efforts in making this happen. Pennsylvania has now reached 80.5% of the vaccines distributed that have been administered.
“As we continue to get gun vaccinations, we are approaching 70% of our adult population in this county having at least one shot. Knowing that we can get back to normal after Memorial Day is great news. “
Upcoming changes to Pittsburgh Pirates games at PNC Park
With Wolf’s announcement, changes are coming to the Pirates games at PNC Park:
“Today’s announcement is exciting and welcome news for Pirates, our fans and our community. We’re excited to be able to provide more opportunities for fans to safely reconnect through the Pittsburgh summer tradition of Pirates baseball. This is another major step for all of us to overcome this pandemic. “In the coming days, we will announce details of the impact today’s announcement will have on capacity limitations and security protocols at PNC Park. While the state will still require everyone inside PNC Park to wear face masks, we encourage all adults to get vaccinated in order to remove the mask warrant. “We would like to thank Governor Tom Wolf, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Bill Peduto, as well as all of our state, county and regional health officials for their continued leadership as we let’s navigate through the continuing impact of this pandemic.
In addition, the Pierogi race will be able to return inside the stadium.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were already working on creating a special section for vaccinated fans.
A spokesperson for the Pittsburgh Steelers told Channel 11 they were eager to reunite with fans at Heinz Field:
“While we are still several months away from the start of the NFL season, we are encouraged by the steps being taken across the country, and particularly in the state of Pennsylvania, which will hopefully achieve our goal of a Heinz Field sold out in the fall. ”
Impacts on bars, restaurants; The salon owner has mixed feelings
“I was waiting for him. I think it’s a long time coming, ”said Sherri Kelly, owner of Mezza Luna Cafe in the Northside. “We’ll have more people than we can actually interact with, which we like to do rather than ‘Here’s your food. See you later.’ “
Across town, Studio Booth’s Jeff Natale said he had mixed feelings about the plan.
“I was excited about being able to have more people in the living room, but I was also worried that we were moving too quickly without knowing the associated risk,” he said.
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association released a statement following Wolf’s announcement:
“Today we learned that the Wolf administration, in coordination with the Joint COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, will be lifting mitigation orders except for masking on Monday, May 31 at 12:01 am. Masking will continue until 70% of Pennsylvanians aged 18 and older are fully vaccinated.
“Pennsylvania’s small commercial taverns and licensed restaurants are certainly poised for this change, as the past 14 months have been among the worst in the history of the industry. There are countless stories of financial ruin and lost jobs.
“But now the time has come when we can switch to a full recovery mode. It’s time to make the return bigger than the reverse.
“In recent months, our state legislature and administration have worked with our industry to help it survive and recover. We are grateful for this help, but want to remind both houses and the governor’s office that help shouldn’t stop just because mitigation orders targeting the industry appear to be coming to an end. There is still work to be done, shifting the bills to bring back all the customers and rebuild a healthy industry.
“Speaking of customers, as many tavern owners know, it was the support from customers ordering takeout or buying gift cards during the toughest days of mitigation orders that allowed them to many establishments keep their heads above water. The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association thanks all of the customers who have supported our member establishments over the past year.
“Finally, the PLBTA thanks all of its members who supported the Association as we sailed together last year. We look forward to continuing to work on behalf of our member institutions. “
Catholic Diocese of Greensburg
The Catholic Diocese of Greensburg said it had high hopes after the announcement:
“We are currently reviewing this information. At first glance, this announcement gives us a lot of hope as we strive to involve the faithful in worship, social events and fundraising activities.