City officials confirm Philadelphia will move to ‘yellow’ Friday; protesters urged to get tested for COVID-19

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley confirmed that the city will move from the “red” to the “yellow” phase on Friday, as outlined in the governor’s phased-in reopening plan.

“Based on the metrics that we announced last week, I am cautiously recommending that Philadelphia begin to restart the economy using a phased, slow plan,” he said.

That plan, called Safer at Home, outlines how certain businesses will reopen.

Businesses that can reopen with some restrictions include child care centers, outdoor youth day camps, parks, banks, car dealerships, real estate ventures, manufacturing and warehouse operations, and office-based businesses, though working from home is still preferred, if possible.

Retail stores can reopen, but curbside and delivery options are still encouraged.

Restaurants — including food trucks and walk-up ordering — can reopen, but the date has been pushed back to June 12 for safety reasons and delays caused by city protests. 

Dine-in service is not allowed. Licensed restaurants can resume outdoor dining on June 12.

All of these businesses must follow a safety checklist — which the city named Safe Mode — to keep up with cleaning and distancing protocols.

“(The Safer at Home plan) is the safest way to try to get people back to work but to do it in a way that will allow us to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Farley continued. 

The health department still advises residents to stay home and only go out for essential needs.

“Stay at home if you can, wear a mask whenever you'll be around others, stay 6 feet away from others, and wash your hands often,” Farley added.

Our "Safer at Home" yellow phase strategy is focused on containment, social distancing, and protecting vulnerable populations.The most important thing we want residents to know: You are still safer at home.

— Jim #StayHomePHL Kenney (@PhillyMayor) June 4, 2020

Although gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed under the governor’s “yellow” phase, Philadelphia officials do not recommend gatherings of any size.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced 121 new cases on Thursday, bringing the citywide total since the start of the outbreak to 23,281. The death toll stands at 1,394. 

Farley said at one point during the peak of cases in April, about 40% of people who were tested did in fact have COVID-19. Now, that number is down to about 7%, reassuring the city’s move to “yellow.”

Amid the efforts to reopen parts of the city and keep a social distance, thousands of people are still protesting across Philadelphia in response to the death of George Floyd. As a result, the health department said it’s likely that more people have been exposed to COVID-19, and Farley expects cases to spike.

Health officials recommend protesters — those who wore masks and those who didn’t — to monitor themselves for symptoms like fever, cough or shortness of breath, and try to stay away from others for 14 days.

Protesters should also get tested for COVID-19 seven days after having been in a large public crowd.

City services were scheduled to resume on Saturday, but that was pushed back to Monday.

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KYW Newsradio’s John McDevitt and Rachel Kurland contributed to this report.