HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday said restaurants in yellow phase counties will be allowed to begin serving patrons in outside dining areas on June 5, as the state makes its final preparations to loosen restrictions further in 18 other counties, scheduled to enter the green phase of the state’s reopening strategy on Friday.

In the green phase, restaurants, bars, gyms, barber shops and beauty shops can reopen at 50 percent capacity.

Wolf on Wednesday said that while the state is calling on residents to continue wearing masks in public, he’s counting on business owners to require that patrons wear masks to protect workers and other customers from potential spread of coronavirus.

“Any business owner has the absolute right to determine what the customer is wearing,” he said. “We’ve left it up to the individual businesses to make the decision. ‘No shoes, no shirt, no service.’ It’s an extension of that.”

Wolf said that he thinks employers will take steps to make their workplaces as safe as possible.

“This is not a matter of regulations. It’s a matter of what it will take to make customers comfortable that they can come back to eat in restaurants and help employees feel safe," Wolf said.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said that health officials will likely be recommending that people wear masks in public “for the foreseeable future.”

In a separate phone call with reporters earlier in the day, Levine said the state may not move counties from the green phase to a phase with no restrictions at all until there is a vaccine and “COVID-19 is not a threat.”

The counties entering the green phase on Friday include: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango, and Warren.

The state’s aim is to have the entire state in either the yellow or green phases o the reopening strategy by the June 5 date on which Wolf’s new order on outdoor dining takes effect.

In the yellow phase counties, when outdoor dining is permitted, eateries will not be allowed to offer buffet dining or self-service beverages, and the restaurant must provide patrons with disposable menus.

In the green phase counties, bars are allowed to reopen, but bar seating must provide six-feet of space between patrons or the establishment must have barriers separating customers. Bars may also not serve groups of more than four people seated together. Patrons will not be allowed to stand while in the bar area, according to the state guidelines.

Other provisions in the state’s guidelines for life in green phase counties include:

  • Personal care services, including hair salons and barber shops must operate by appointment only; appointments or reservations are also strongly encouraged for gyms or spas.
  • Any gathering for a planned or spontaneous event of greater than 250 individuals is prohibited. This includes concerts, festival, fair, conference, sporting event, movie showing, or theater performance.
  • Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other places of congregate worship are specifically excluded from the limitations established by the order. The state guidelines indicate, however, that “these institutions are strongly encouraged to enforce social distancing and other mitigation measures such as masking at their gatherings. “
  • Visitation to prisons and hospitals may resume “subject to the discretion of the facility,” according to the new guidelines.

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