PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Governor Wolf's Administration and the COVID-19 Joint Task Force announced the mitigation orders in effect will end on May 31st.
Everything but the masking order will be lifted.
After a long year, many business owners are jumping for joy.
"Those that are capable are doing back flips. This has been a very long haul, as you know," said David Black, President and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC.
Black says it's been a long haul with many businesses bearing a tremendous weight.
"Here we are 14, 15, months later, sort of getting things back to normal and assuming things are trending in the right direction," added Black.
Economic recovery is finally within sight he says but not without some remaining hurdles.
"Number one is workforce," said Black.
Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry agrees.
"I hear from everybody how difficult it is to hire people," explained Barr. "Some of that is related to perhaps anxiety over returning to work, but a lot of it is that we've extended compensation benefits through August. When you add in $300 on top of what you get from the state, you create the real likelihood that people will be paid more not to work than to work."
Black said he believes staffing will remain a challenge for businesses long after the threat of COVID-19 disappears.
The second challenge noted by businesses involves fears of legal action if customers or patrons are exposed to COVID-19. House Bill 605 is being considered by lawmakers. If passed and signed into law, it would protect health care facilities, schools, colleges, universities, child care centers, and local governments from personal injury lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure so long as the business complied with public health guidelines. A similar measure passed last year, but Governor Wolf vetoed it.
"We're hoping it will pass again around budget time. The governor will sign something, we hope, we are requesting, please, that he does that because it is another level of assurance that businesses can operate efficiently, and correctly, and safely," added Black.
Governor Wolf's Administration says once Pennsylvania hits 70% of residents vaccinated the masking order will lift as well. Currently, approximately 50% of Pennsylvanians have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Black believes the 70% goal may be the incentive to get those reluctant to get a shot out the door and into a vaccine facility.
The governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place.
According to a release issued by the Wolf Administration, all Pennsylvanians ages 16 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine. The provider map is available on the Department of Health’s website. Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.