Governor Tom Wolf has set Friday, May 8 as the date for a limited reopening of society in Pennsylvania.
“In the coming days, we will build on the standards I outlined last Friday, and discuss how Pennsylvania plans to move forward with a measured, region-by-region and sectoral approach, business-by-business,” Wolf said during a public address Monday afternoon.
Details of this phase of the reopening are still under consideration, but Wolf said limited construction, with strict social distancing guidelines, will be allowed on that date throughout the state.
“We’re going to consider a lot of things as we move toward that May 8 gradual opening,” Wolf said.
The shutdown of the construction industry in Pennsylvania has been one of the governor’s more controversial moves during the novel coronavirus pandemic. A senate bill that would allow many businesses to reopen was sent to the governor last week, Wolf vetoed it Monday. Previously he said the legislation would put more people at risk and prolong economic hardships created by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the governor’s stay-at-home order has also been extended until at least May 8.
Wolf and state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, along with federal public health officials, have stressed that reopening the economy will be a local issue and that decisions will be driven by data. However, the Wolf administration has provided few details about exactly what metrics will be used to determine when certain areas of the state can reopen and in what fashion.
Epidemiologists and public health officials have said that increased testing capacity is necessary in order to reopen the country. Vice President Mike Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that testing capacity is sufficient; several governors have rejected that claim.
“My hope is that … we are disciplining ourselves to say by a certain date, May 8, we will have in place the ability to do the testing we need in the areas we open,” Wolf said.
Wolf stressed that people should not let up on social distancing measures as things begin to reopen, and said it could become necessary to put some restrictions back in place if disease transmission picks back up.
“If we are making this decision based on evidence, and we see evidence that says we were moving too fast in this area or in this business sector, we can retreat,” he said.
The governor also announced phone ordering and curbside pickup for 176 of the state’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores begins today. Additionally, Wolf said he plans to sign a bill allowing for online car sales in the commonwealth.