The Reopening Begins: What You Can Do and Can’t Do

As most of the Pittsburgh region enters the “yellow” reopening phase, the stay-at-home order is lifted but the way business is conducted will still be far from normal.
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As of midnight, May 15, all counties in the region except Beaver will move from the state’s “red” to the “yellow” reopening phase. While good news for certain businesses, the designation is far from a green light to return to business as usual. To help you navigate the changes, here is what the experts are saying.

Wear a Mask in Public

The Pennsylvania Department of Health encourages everyone to wear homemade cloth or fabric masks when:

  • Shopping
  • Visiting a health care provider
  • Using public transportation
  • Interacting with customers/clients
  • Feeling sick, coughing or sneezing

To help businesses that are reopening, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development has launched Ready Pittsburgh, a toolkit for organizations that includes best-practice protocols and guides.

Yellow Phase Rules and Restrictions

  • Child care centers can resume operations with certain safety precautions. CDC guidance on child care under the yellow phase can be found here.
  • Businesses that cannot accommodate employees working from home will be allowed to reopen their offices, but they must follow additional guidelines from the state (see below).
  • Businesses that have been operating remotely through individual telework of their employees must continue to telework until the stay-at-home and business closure orders are fully lifted.
  • For indoor malls, only tenants with external entrances may open, as well as pharmacy or health care tenants.
  • Many other businesses, such as gyms and theaters, will remain closed.
  • Schools will remain closed.
  • Restaurants and bars will remain open for takeout and delivery only.
  • All gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people.

Pennsylvania Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores will reopen for in-person sales in all counties in the “yellow” phase. No more than 25 customers and employees will be allowed inside a store at one time and the limit will be lower for smaller stores, according to the Liquor Control Board.

Businesses that must conduct in-person operations and activities must follow additional guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:

  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch areas.
  • Establish and implement a plan in the event the business is exposed to a probable case of COVID-19.
  • Stagger work start and stop times to prevent large groups from entering or exiting the building at the same time.
  • Limit the number of people in employee common areas and ensure those areas are cleaned frequently.
  • Conduct meetings and trainings virtually. If a meeting must be held in person, limit the number of employees to 10 and maintain a physical distance of 6 feet.
  • Provide employees with soap and water to wash their hands, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  • Provide nonmedial face masks for employees to wear at all times when working in the same area as others.

FAQs for businesses in each phase can be found here.


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