PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia officials are putting a pause on the reopening of some activities as the city moves into the green phase Friday. Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced Tuesday that indoor dining and gyms in the city will not be allowed to reopen until at least Aug. 1 due to an increase in new COVID-19 cases.
Farley is targeting high-risk activities where the risk of spreading COVID-19 is higher. But restrictions will be lifted Friday on a variety of other locations.
“It was a difficult decision because we recognize there are restaurants out there, business owners that need to make a living, employees they want to employ. We want to get the economy going. At the same time, we’re very concerned about the epidemic,” Farley said.
The health commissioner says some restrictions are being kept in place because cases of COVID-19 have increased, mainly among young people.
“It’s been linked to social events, to travel, and particularly to travel to the Jersey Shore,” Farley said.
Some low-risk activities will be allowed to resume on Friday, July 3, as part of the modified restricted green phase. Those activities include museums and libraries, indoor shopping malls, and small indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Casinos will also be allowed to reopen but with very strict requirements including guests wearing masks, six-feet distancing between guests, and absolutely no food, drink or smoking is allowed indoors.
“We’re no longer seeing the decline that we were seeing before,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. “The only thing that’s going to impact this virus is how we behave. We’re going to have to behave in a way that prevents the spread from one person to another.”
The decision to keep indoor dining closed impacts 4,200 restaurants in the city.
“If we were to allow people to congregate in there without masks, that might catalyze another surge in cases,” Farley said.
Farley says we have to get used to living with the coronavirus, which won’t be under control until there’s a vaccine. He’s hoping, with safety precautions, there won’t be a spike, which would cause restrictions to be re-imposed.
The health department also recommends people should not travel from Philadelphia to the red states below and anyone returning to Philadelphia from these states should self-quarantine for 14 days.
“Recommendation that people of Philadelphia do not travel to high-instance areas and that people traveling from high-instance areas coming to Philadelphia, self-quarantine for 14 days,” Dr. Farley said. “There is a map that is posting on our website that indicates the states that we consider high-instance areas.”
The states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
Most of the state of Pennsylvania is now in the green phase of reopening.
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl contributed to this report.