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Governor to lift more pandemic restrictions in Pennsylvania

A woman wearing a mask and gloves exits The Shop, a convenience store in downtown Milford, Pa. on Thursday, May 28, 2020. Pike County is moving to Governor Tom Wolf's "yellow" phase of reopening on Friday. (Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP)

HARRISBURG (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf plans to announce Friday that he will lift more pandemic restrictions in certain counties in Pennsylvania, his office said, while 26 more counties woke up to fewer restrictions.

That leaves nearly 6 million people in hard-hit southeastern Pennsylvania under Wolf’s tightest orders, including a stay-at-home order that is part of Wolf’s so-called “red” phase in the governor’s stoplight-colored three-phase reopening plan.

Wolf will announce that more counties can move to the green phase, the phase with the fewest restrictions.

More than 70,000 Pennsylvanians have been infected with the coronavirus, according to state Health Department figures, and about 5,400 have died from it. Meanwhile, more than 2.3 million people in Pennsylvania, including self-employed and gig workers, have filed for unemployment since mid-March, when Wolf’s shutdown orders began taking effect.

Starting Friday, eight more counties — Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike and Schuylkill — are seeing Wolf’s stay-at-home order lifted and are moving to the yellow phase, a change announced by Wolf last week.

Along with the stay-at-home order, more retailers and other businesses can reopen, including outdoor dine-in seating service at restaurants. Gatherings are limited to 25 people.

Also Friday, 18 mostly rural counties across northern Pennsylvania that are home to about 850,000 residents are moving to the green phase, the first counties to do so. That includes Centre County, the home of Penn State’s main campus.

In the green phase, overnight camps and organized youth sports can operate, while restaurants and bars, salons and barber shops, gyms, theaters, malls and casinos can all open at 50% capacity. Other businesses serving the public in a building or defined area can only operate at up to 75% capacity.

People will still be asked to wear masks in public and businesses must enforce social distancing requirements, while concerts, sporting events and other large gatherings are restricted to under 250 people.

Wolf has said that, next Friday, he is moving the remaining “red” counties — Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton — to yellow.

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