By Christen Smith
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday that he will ease COVID-19 economic restrictions on Monday as planned.
The announcement comes after a three-week ban on indoor dining and alcohol sales amid an alarming spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine confirmed that new infections have slowed since the limits were put into place.
“While the number of hospitalizations and deaths remains entirely too high, it appears that our new cases have plateaued,” Wolf said. “That means the restrictions we put in place have been effective.”
On Dec. 12, Wolf ordered bars, restaurants, gyms and other entertainment venues to cease indoor operations through Jan. 4, 2021. Doing so, he said, would prevent virus patients from overwhelming hospitals, save lives and keep other residents safe until widespread vaccination occurs in a few months.
“I don’t want Pennsylvanians to have false expectations,” he said. “We anticipate that it’s going to be months, not weeks, until phase three vaccine distribution begins to the general public.
“The rest of us are going to need to be patient until it’s our turn,” he added.
Hospitals and nursing homes began immunizing workers and residents this month as shipments of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna arrive in the state. Pennsylvania’s three-phase plan prioritizes front line workers, the elderly and vulnerable residents ahead of the general public, who are not anticipated to receive immunizations until springtime.
“So mitigation is more important than ever,” said Levine said. “We cannot let our guard down.”
When the restrictions lift on Monday, restaurants and businesses still must follow capacity limits and mandate mask wearing for all customers.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” Wolf said.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.