PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Business owners were busy Monday tearing down plexiglass shields and ripping up social distancing markers on the floor as Pennsylvania's coronavirus mitigation orders were lifted just after midnight.
"It's hard enough to run a business anyway and this really was a test for a lot of people," said Christina Clarke of Sunrise Soap Co. as she reflected on the pandemic. However, she noted the shutdown last year gave her the opportunity to expand her shop into a second building next door. Until Monday, Clarke was not able to fill the building to 100% capacity due to safety guidelines.
"First, I'm happy. And, I'm really grateful because I know not all businesses were able to survive the closure. But, I'm also tired," said Alexandria Hammond of My Girlfriend's Wardrobe consignment shop in York who launched an aggressive online presence and social media strategy during the restrictions in order to keep her shop in the limelight.
Clarke and Hammond both noted that the change in mitigation orders come at a good time for business owners. This week marks 'First Friday' in York, an event that they both hope will draw customers back to the stores.
Masking orders will be lifted by June 28 or when 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated.
Hammond said the change in mitigation guidelines made her feel "more hopeful. And, looking forward to not having to wear a mask and not having to think of COVID-related things in my business."
You can read an excerpt of the press release announcing the end of mitigation orders from the Governor's Office below:
The Wolf 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.
“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.”
“With millions of Pennsylvanians getting vaccinated, it’s time to plan the transition back to normal,” said Sen. Art Haywood. Hospitalizations and deaths are down. This action today is a key step forward.”
“While the restrictions that were put in place at the outset of the pandemic have been a major source of frustration for many Pennsylvanians and businesses, it is the collaborative work of this bipartisan Task Force that is allowing us to finally roll back the restrictions and get back to normal life,” said Sen. Ryan Aument.
“I’m thrilled after more than a year that we are able to lift these restrictions so that we can move to more normal life,” said Rep. Tim O’Neal. “This will help grow our economy and assist our small businesses that have sacrificed so much due to COVID-19. Thank you to Pennsylvanians who have chosen to be vaccinated. Your efforts have helped us arrive at today.”
“I am proud of the progress we have made with vaccinations throughout Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Bridget Kosierowski. “Lifting mitigation orders on Memorial Day and announcing that masking orders will be lifted once 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s adults are fully vaccinated are all benefits from following the scientific medical research and data. Many sacrifices had been made over the past year while we waited for help. The help is now here in the form of a vaccine and we must do everything we can to encourage everyone to receive their vaccination so we can overcome this pandemic. Let’s follow the science, because it’s the path to us all returning to normalcy.”