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Governor Announces May 1 Statewide Reopening of Limited Outdoor Recreational Activities to Help Pennsylvanians Maintain Positive Physical, Mental Health

Governor Announces May 1 Statewide Reopening of Limited Outdoor Recreational Activities to Help Pennsylvanians Maintain Positive Physical, Mental Health

April 27, 2020

To ensure that Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation as a way to maintain positive physical and mental health, and in keeping with the commonwealth’s stay-at-home orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the Wolf Administration is lifting some restrictions on businesses related to certain outdoor activities.

Starting Friday, May 1, golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds may reopen statewide and are required to follow updated life-sustaining business guidance and FAQ issued by the Wolf Administration to include specifics for how these outdoor recreational industries can resume activities while prioritizing public health and safety. Campgrounds in state parks will remain closed through Thursday, May 14.

“Pennsylvanians have remained resilient throughout this COVID-19 crisis, and as we successfully continue to flatten the curve to protect our physical health, it is critical that we also focus on our physical and mental health during these extraordinary times. As the weather warms and daylight lengthens, enjoying time outdoors is an important way to manage stress,” Wolf said. “As we start to take measured, limited steps to reopen our commonwealth, reopening these industries will help to rebuild our economy and strengthen our mental health.”

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half (45 percent) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over COVID-19 with the burden likely to continue even as the pandemic’s threat diminishes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities. These guidelines must be followed statewide by businesses and when engaging in outdoor activity while the state disaster declaration remains in effect. The guidelines will ensure the safety of individuals and families engaging in outdoor activities and adherence will help slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay close to home: Pennsylvanians are encouraged to enjoy permitted outdoor recreational activities within their community and avoid crowding popular destinations.
  • Practice social distancing: Maintain the recommended minimum 6 feet apart from fellow recreationists. Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to wear a mask or protective garment that covers the nose and mouth any time they go outside. If a parking lot at a park is full or there are too many people on the same trail, find an alternate place to recreate. Cross the street to avoid running directly past another runner or wait longer at a golf hole for a fellow golfer to move forward.
  • Minimize risk to others: Individuals should only go out if they feel healthy and have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs and handrails.
  • Have a plan: Create a safety plan before heading outdoors. Explain to children the need to keep their distance from others, even if they happen to see a friend while outside. Discuss with partners, social distancing while on the golf course. Think through how to avoid other runners when waiting to safely cross a street at the same time.

“Practicing social distancing takes a little planning and patience but it is necessary if we want to continue to flatten the curve while ensuring that Pennsylvanians have opportunities to de-stress and get exercise,” Wolf said. “Finding the balance between enjoying the outdoors and staying safe is only possible when all Pennsylvanians are abiding by the same precautions. It’s critical that all Pennsylvanians adhere to the safety guidelines to allow for these outdoor activities to remain available to the public.”

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

Wolf Administration Issues Guidance as Construction Industry Prepares to Resume Work May 1

As the construction industry prepares to resume work, the Wolf Administration today issued guidance for all construction businesses and employees to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

All businesses in the construction industry in the commonwealth are permitted to resume in-person operations starting Friday, May 1 – one week earlier than previously announced.

Previously, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine ordered most construction projects to cease unless they were supporting life-sustaining businesses or activities or were granted an exemption to perform or support life-sustaining activities.

“My administration has taken measured, aggressive steps to protect public health and safety, including strictly limiting the types of businesses and projects that may continue to operate during this unprecedented time,” Wolf said. “Thankfully, these actions are working, and we are flattening the curve. As we start to take steps to reopen the state, we recognize that the construction industry is vital to Pennsylvania’s economy and may operate safely with stringent guidance in place that will protect employees and the public.”

The guidance, developed from guidance created by the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, provides universal protocols for all construction activity, as well as specific additional guidance for residential, commercial and public construction projects.

All business and employees in the construction industry must adhere to the Secretary of Health’s order providing for business safety measures, which requires that every person present at a work site wear masks/face coverings unless they are unable for medical or safety reasons and requires that businesses establish protocols upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

All construction projects must maintain proper social distancing and provide hand washing and sanitizing stations for workers, as well as cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high risk transmission areas. Businesses must identify a “pandemic safety officer” for each project or work site, or, for large scale construction projects, for each contractor at the site.

Residential construction projects may not permit more than four individuals on the job site at any time, not including individuals who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity.

For non-residential or commercial projects, the number of individuals permitted on enclosed portions of a project varies depending on the size of the enclosed site. Commercial construction firms should also strongly consider establishing a written safety plan for each work location containing site specific details for the implementation of this guidance to be shared with all employees and implemented and enforced by the pandemic safety officer.

Contractors performing work at the direction of the commonwealth, municipalities or school districts should defer to those public entities to determine what projects may continue.

Local governments may elect to impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the guidance and in such instances, businesses must adhere to those more stringent requirements.

Local officials have been tasked with ensuring that construction businesses are aware that this guidance exists and notifying businesses that a complaint of noncompliance was received.

Businesses that have questions about whether this guidance applies to them may email the Department of Labor and Industry at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Gov. Wolf: Reopening Targeted for May 8 in North-Central, Northwest

Phased Approach Relies on Safety and Science

Governor Tom Wolf today presented his detailed plan for reopening the commonwealth with a targeted May 8 start. The administration will categorize reopening into three phases: red, yellow, green. Phases will be assigned based on conditions in a county, counties or region.

The administration will first study conditions in the north-central and northwest regions with a target of moving from red to yellow on May 8. Additional monitoring will take place and direction will be provided in the next week.

To decide when to move to a new phase, the administration will use Department of Health metrics and a data tool developed by Carnegie Mellon University. The full plan is available here.

The red phase, which currently applies to the whole state, has the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business and school closures, and building safety protocols.

Red Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
  • Life Sustaining Businesses Only
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools (for in-person instruction) and Most Child Care Facilities Closed
Social Restrictions
  • Stay at Home Orders in Place
  • Large Gatherings Prohibited
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only
  • Only Travel for Life-Sustaining Purposes Encouraged
  • Reiterate and reinforce safety guidance for businesses, workers, individuals, facilities, update if necessary
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

As regions or counties move into the yellow phase, some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease while others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place. The purpose of this phase is to begin to power back up the economy while keeping a close eye on the public health data to ensure the spread of disease remains contained to the greatest extent possible.

Yellow Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
  • Telework Must Continue Where Feasible
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders
  • Child Care Open with Worker and Building Safety Orders
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools Remain Closed for In-Person Instruction
Social Restrictions
  • Stay at Home Restrictions Lifted in Favor of Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings of More than 25 Prohibited
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities (such as gyms, spas), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only
  • All businesses must follow CDC and DOH guidance for social distancing and cleaning
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. While this phase will facilitate a return to a “new normal,” it will be equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum.

Green Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
  • All Businesses Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines
Social Restrictions
  • Aggressive Mitigation Orders Lifted
  • All Individuals Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

Just as the administration took a measured, county-by-county approach to the stay-at-home order before expanding statewide, it will do the same to ease restrictions and reopen the state.The governor first announced the standards for reopening last week and they remain the focal point for the comprehensive plans announced today:

  • The approach will be data driven and reliant upon quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based, regional approach to reopenings in Pennsylvania.
  • There will be guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, and health care facilities and providers for assured accountability as we reopen.
  • Reopening necessitates that adequate personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing are available.
  • Reopening requires a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the commonwealth to deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation.
  • Protections for vulnerable populations must remain steadfast throughout the reopening process, such as limitations on visitors to congregate care facilities and prisons.
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations should remain in place for the duration of the reopening process.

The commonwealth is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to create a data-driven decision support tool that will enable a balance between maximizing the strengthening of the economy while minimizing public health risks. This tool will help officials better understand the current health and economic status, as well as the inherent risks and benefits to easing restrictions by sector and region.

There is no single tool or model that can determine easing of restrictions or reopening, but the commonwealth, through partnerships with Carnegie Mellon University and other institutions of higher education, and the criteria set by the Department of Health, will make informed decisions based on data and science.

To determine when a region is ready to reopen and return to work, the state will evaluate the incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per capita, relying upon existing regional health districts used by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. A regional assessment will measure the COVID-19 cases to determine if the target goals of an average of less than 50 cases per 100,000 individuals over the course of 14 days is met. The administration will work closely with county and local governments to enable the communities to reopen and transition back to work.

Throughout this process, the administration will have guidance in place to support best public health practices to avoid these negative impacts. This guidance will reinforce and build on existing business and building safety orders and will adapt to the changing nature of the pandemic, even as we learn from the first communities to reopen.

Gov. Wolf Encourages Voters to Apply for a Mail-in Ballot

As Pennsylvania continues mitigation efforts to fight COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf is encouraging registered voters to apply for a mail-in ballot for the June 2 primary election. The governor also announced the Department of State has launched an awareness campaign to inform the public about the new primary election date and how to apply for a mail-in ballot, including sending 4.2 million postcards to primary voters. In-person voting at polling places will remain available.

“There is no more important civic duty than voting, but we also want to make sure that every primary voter can cast their vote safely,” said Governor Wolf. “This election is the first time that voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot and I encourage every Pennsylvania voter to visit votesPA.com to conveniently update their registration or apply for a mail-in ballot.”

Registered voters can apply online for a mail-in or absentee ballot at votespa.com. The deadline is 5 p.m., May 26. So far, 462,085 voters have applied for a mail-in ballot and 139,572 voters have applied for an absentee ballot.

“The 2020 election season is bringing unprecedented changes for Pennsylvania voters,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “We are using every tool available to make sure voters know about the changes in voting while also staying safe, including the new option for all voters to vote by mail from the comfort of their home. Nearly 600,000 voters have already applied to vote by mail or absentee – a secure, convenient method for all voters.”

The Department of State’s voter education outreach includes:

  • A public awareness campaign on radio, television and multiple digital platforms including social channels, streaming services and mobile apps.
  • Mailing 4.2 million postcards and sending weekly emails to registered voters regarding the new primary date and mail-in ballot option, along with important deadlines.
  • Outreach to stakeholders to help spread the word.

The Wolf Administration will provide counties with funding to send informational mailings to voters, purchase equipment and protective supplies, promote and facilitate mail-in voting, increase needed staffing, and take other actions to improve election administration and voting safety and security. The federal CARES Act and state appropriations from election security and technology is providing funding.

The department is also purchasing infection-protection kits for all counties to provide to precincts so poll workers can maintain a safe voting environment at polling locations on June 2. These kits will include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, floor marking tape and other sanitizing supplies and will be provided to the counties at no cost to them.

Voters and county election officials in Pennsylvania were already preparing for historic change following the passage and signing of Act 77 of 2019. Act 77 was the first major amendment to the state’s Election Code in more than 80 years. It brought the option of mail-in ballots with no excuse needed, along with later deadlines for voter registration and for returning mail and absentee ballots.

With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed, and Governor Wolf signed, Act 12 of 2020, which rescheduled the primary election and made additional changes in the process for voters as well as county election officials.

The new deadline to register to vote or update a voter registration for the primary is May 18. Registered voters have until 5 pm May 26 to sign up to vote by mail ballot and until 8 p.m. on election day to return their voted ballot. Voters who applied for a ballot before the change of election date do not need to apply again, but voters whose address may have changed should contact their county election office.

Act 12 also allows counties to temporarily consolidate polling places more easily as they work to relocate voting sites such as those at senior centers, now closed because of the COVID-19 emergency.

“In coming weeks, voters should pay special attention to their county’s announcements regarding relocation of polling places,” Secretary Boockvar said. “For the primary election, many voters could be voting at different locations than in the past if they cannot or do not wish to vote by mail.”

Once counties have finalized their polling place plans, voters will be able to check their voting location through the Department of State’s polling place locator.

For more information on the new mail-in ballots and all things related to voting in Pennsylvania, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit votesPA.com.

Gov. Wolf, Sec. of Health Extend Statewide Stay-at-Home Order Until May 8

Governor’s Stay-at-Home Amendment
Health Secretary’s Stay-at-Home Amendment
Stay-at-Home Guidance

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced that the statewide stay-at-home orders issued on April 1 to protect Pennsylvanians and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will be extended until Friday, May 8 at 12:01 AM. The initial order was set to expire on April 30.

“It is clear that our early and aggressive efforts to mitigate this spread of this highly contagious and deadly virus are working. While we begin to seek ways to move forward, it’s imperative that we continue to take strong precautions to protect Pennsylvanians and ensure that our health care system is not overwhelmed,” Wolf said. “I am so proud of this commonwealth and the resilience of my fellow Pennsylvanians, and I urge you to continue to stay calm and stay home so that we can all stay safe.”

“We are starting to see a downward trend in the number of positive cases throughout the state, which is definitely encouraging,” Dr. Levine said. “We need to proceed carefully to make sure the strides we’ve made in combatting this virus continue to move forward. Extending our statewide order until May 8 will ensure that we don’t overwhelm our health system, while helping our economy to recover.”

Non-life-sustaining physical business closures remain in effect and all life-sustaining businesses and state services will continue.
Individuals are permitted to leave their residences for tasks essential to maintaining health and safety.

Stay-at-home guidance is available as a PDF here.

Wolf recommended that Pennsylvanians continue to wear masks when leaving the house for life-sustaining reasons. Dr. Levine recently signed an order directing protections for critical workers who are employed at businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

At this time, law enforcement will continue to focus on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement.

Read the governor’s amendment as a PDF here.

Read the Secretary of Health’s amendment as a PDF here.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

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