Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Pennsylvania, US, to lift business restrictions in 24 counties starting May 8, maintain restrictions in the rest of the state.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Allentown, Pennsylvania
  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • State College, Pennsylvania
  • Williamsport, Pennsylvania
  • Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Du Bois, Pennsylvania
  • Altoona, Pennsylvania
  • Johnstown, Pennsylvania
  • Hazelton, Pennsylvania
  • Bradford, Pennsylvania
  • Latrobe, Pennsylvania
  • Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

This alert began 06 May 2020 20:37 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Pennsylvania (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued orders to lift business restrictions in 24 of the commonwealth's 67 counties starting May 8, while maintaining business restrictions and a stay-at-home order in the rest of Pennsylvania until further notice as part of the government's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Starting 0001 May 8, in the counties of Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren, the stay-at-home order will be lifted, and most businesses may resume in-person operations as long as they follow safety and health guidelines. All businesses that have been able to operate with employees working from home must continue doing so. Businesses that do reopen must enhance sanitation, send home any employee with COVID-19 symptoms and identify others who might have been in touch with that employee, ensure all employees wear masks, limit the number of people in common areas, and ensure proper social distance at all times. Businesses that serve the public must conduct operations by appointment, or limit the number of customers within the facilities to 50 percent of the maximum capacity, ensure workers and customers wear face coverings, and provide special service hours for vulnerable population. Restaurants and bars may continue to operate only for deliveries and pickups, and indoor recreation, fitness, entertainment centers, and personal care businesses must remain closed. Gatherings of more than 25 people will be banned.

In the remaining 43 counties, the stay-at-home order will stay in place, and nonessential businesses must remain closed. Residents can leave their homes only to obtain basic goods, attend a medical issue, care for a person in need, or go to work at an essential business or service. Residents may also perform outdoor activities, provided they comply with social distancing requirements. The statewide closure of schools and nonessential businesses remains in place until further notice. Among the essential businesses and services that can remain open are grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, fuel stations, and those related to critical manufacturing, security, transport, and energy.

Workers must wear a mask whenever they are in their worksite, and customers must wear a mask whenever they enter a business. Authorities have also recommended all residents to wear a mask whenever they leave their homes.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days and weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures are likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center