PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Pennsylvania will lift its COVID-19 restrictions, except for masking, on Memorial Day, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday. Wolf says the Commonwealth’s mask mandate will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.
Capacity restrictions on bars, restaurants and indoor and outdoor gatherings will go away on May 31, more than a year into the pandemic.READ MORE: Gasoline Shortage Appears To Be Creeping Into Philadelphia Region As Colonial Pipeline Resumes Operations
“Effective May 31, we are lifting COVID mitigation orders,” Wolf tweeted. “The masking order will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.”
Effective May 31, we are lifting COVID mitigation orders.
The masking order will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) May 4, 2021
“We continue to make significant progress in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and as more Pennsylvania adults get vaccinated and guidance from the CDC evolves, we can continue to move forward with our reopening efforts,” Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said. “I encourage Pennsylvanians to take the critical steps needed to put this pandemic behind us by getting vaccinated, follow through with both doses if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continue to take steps like masking, frequent hand washing and sanitizing and social distancing.”
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The @GovernorTomWolf Administration, in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, announced today that mitigation orders except masking will be lifted on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31 at 12:01 AM. Read more: https://t.co/liZYuqhkFX pic.twitter.com/ZfccyaNwnl
— PA Department of Health (@PAHealthDept) May 4, 2021
The Health Department said an order requiring people to wear masks while away from home will be lifted once 70% of Pennsylvanians ages 18 and older are fully vaccinated. That percentage stood at nearly 42% on Tuesday, according to federal data, while 63% of those 18 and older had at least one dose.
Pennsylvania revised its masking order last week to bring it in line with new federal recommendations that say fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear them outside anymore unless they’re at a crowded event.
Other state mandates, including a requirement that hospitals and long-term care facilities report new infections, will remain.
“I do want to issue this warning, everyone wants this epidemic to end, but this epidemic is not over yet, we have more than 100 people being hospitalized and 50 people dying every week now,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
Farley hasn’t decided if the city will continue to be more restrictive than the state — it has been so far because the virus has been more concentrated and dangerous in the city.
“We’ve come this far by following the science, I recognize the political pressure and the economic pressure, but there’s no sense in coming this far and then loosening to the point where we slide back,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Infection rates are declining everywhere and while vaccinations are up, the rate has slowed.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers released a joint statement regarding the mitigation efforts being lifted:
“Today’s announcement from Governor Wolf is great news for hockey, basketball, and music fans, and it brings us even closer to our goal of welcoming full capacity crowds back to Wells Fargo Center. We’re planning to have a full arena later this year for Flyers and 76ers games, concerts, and events, and we’re extremely confident in the health and safety measures we’ve put in place. Safety will always be our first priority, and in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll continue working to ensure that every guest who visits Wells Fargo Center can do so safely and confidently.”
The governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic still remains in place.
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl contributed to this report.MORE NEWS: Police Standoff Ends In Holmesburg With Armed Woman Taken Into Custody
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