Tips for Navigating “Yellow” Allegheny County

As more businesses re-open, you can enjoy some added flexibility while staying safe.

Allegheny County is making a major move under Gov. Tom Wolf’s three-tiered COVID-19 return plan. With Friday’s shift from the red phase to the slightly relaxed yellow phase, retail business will begin to re-open and many employees will return to work.

The virus is still present and dangerous, however, and restrictions remain in place. Here are three easy ways to enjoy the added possibilities of yellow without running into frustration.



Keep a clean mask in your car.
Most retail businesses, including supermarkets, are still requiring customers to wear masks in order to be admitted to stores. As the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends, you should wear them anytime you’re around people outside your own home. A move from yellow to green requires low rates of COVID-19 transmission — and masks help stop the virus from spreading from unknowing carriers to others.

You may find yourself deciding to make a stop for groceries, take-out or another shopping errand, only to realize you don’t have a mask with you — and thus won’t be allowed in the front door. Get in the habit of grabbing a clean mask when you leave the house, but to ensure you’re able to make an unplanned stop, put a fresh mask or two inside your glove compartment. You’ll be able to take advantage of newly reopened businesses, whether or not you planned ahead.



Make trips at off-peak hours to make social distancing easier.
If store aisles are crowded, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a 6-foot distance between you and the next shopper. This can add anxiety to a supermarket trip — and none of us need more anxiety at the moment.

If your schedule allows it, make larger trips on a weekday or soon after stores open; the fewer people in shops at the time you’re going, the better. If you have just one thing you need, consider visiting a smaller store (buy local if possible!) rather than heading to a big-box chain for that purchase; there will likely be fewer visitors at a specialty shop than Wal-Mart.

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Get outside.
While our understanding of COVID-19 is always evolving, the best science indicates that most transmission occurs indoors. So when you’re planning outings under the yellow phase, make outdoor activities your goal. Schedule a walk or bike ride rather than visiting a friend’s house; get take-out and arrange a backyard picnic. With drive-in movie theaters opening, you can even take a trip to the movies (an impossibility until this week) outdoors.

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