Participate in the 2020 U.S. Census to shape your future in PA. Learn more at PA.gov/census.

Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

Last updated 7:00 p.m., June 5, 2020

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

All Pennsylvanians have an important role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives. Here are resources to help individuals, families, and businesses do their part.

Keep checking back. This guide will be kept up to date as resources and information change.

You can find up-to-date information about cases in Pennsylvania at on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

Popular Resources

COVID-19 Dashhboard (Beta Version)

Check out the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Dashboard (beta version) to see up-to-date data on case counts and demographics, hospital preparedness, and testing.

Comments about the dashboard? Give us your feedback.

What Phase Is My County in?

Pennsylvania plans to proceed with returning to work cautiously. Broad reopenings or reopenings that are not structured around ongoing social distancing, universal masking, or other public health guidance would likely result in a spike of cases and new stay-at-home and closure orders.

Throughout this process, we will have guidance in place to support best public health practices. This guidance will reinforce and build on existing worker and building safety orders. It will also be able to adapt to the changing nature of the pandemic, as well as lessons learned from communities that return to work strategically.

Pennsylvania will utilize a three-phase matrix to determine when counties and/or regions are ready to begin easing some restrictions on work, congregate settings, and social interactions. See the full plan for reopening Pennsylvania.

Red Phase

  • None

Yellow Phase

  • Adams
  • Beaver
  • Berks
  • Bucks
  • Carbon
  • Chester
  • Columbia
  • Cumberland
  • Dauphin
  • Delaware
  • Erie
  • Franklin
  • Huntingdon
  • Juniata
  • Lackawanna
  • Lancaster
  • Lebanon
  • Lehigh
  • Luzerne
  • Mifflin
  • Monroe
  • Montgomery
  • Northampton
  • Northumberland
  • Perry
  • Philadelphia
  • Pike
  • Schuylkill
  • Susquehanna
  • Union
  • Wyoming
  • Wayne
  • York

Green Phase

  • Allegheny
  • Armstrong
  • Bedford
  • Blair
  • Bradford
  • Butler
  • Cambria
  • Cameron
  • Centre
  • Clarion
  • Clearfield
  • Clinton
  • Crawford
  • Elk
  • Fayette
  • Forest
  • Fulton
  • Greene
  • Indiana
  • Jefferson
  • Lawrence
  • Lycoming
  • McKean
  • Mercer
  • Montour
  • Potter
  • Snyder
  • Somerset
  • Sullivan
  • Tioga
  • Venango
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • Westmoreland

Red Phase

The red phase has the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life-sustaining business, school closures, and building safety protocols.

Red Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
  • Life-Sustaining Businesses Only
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools (for in-person instruction) and Most Child Care Facilities Closed
Social Restrictions
  • Stay at Home Orders in Place
  • Large Gatherings Prohibited
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only
  • Only Travel for Life-Sustaining Purposes Encouraged
  • Reiterate and reinforce safety guidance for businesses, workers, individuals, facilities, update if necessary
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

Yellow Phase

As regions or counties move into the yellow phase, some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease while others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, hair and nail salons, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place.

This purpose of this phase is to begin to power back up the economy while keeping a close eye on the public health data to ensure the spread of disease remains contained to the greatest extent possible.

Yellow Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
Social Restrictions
  • Stay at Home Order Lifted for Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings of More Than 25 Prohibited
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities and Personal Care Services (such as gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons and other entities that provide massage therapy), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars May Open Outdoor Dining, in Addition to Carry-Out and Delivery (effective 6/5/2020)
  • All businesses must follow CDC and DOH guidance for social distancing and cleaning
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

Green Phase

After a county transitions to the yellow phase, we will closely monitor for increased risk, such as significant outbreaks. If overall risk remains mitigated for fourteen days, we will transition the county to the green phase.

The green phase eases most restrictions with the continued suspension of the stay at home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health.

While this phase will facilitate a return to a “new normal,” it will be equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum.

Green Phase
Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions
  • Continued Telework Strongly Encouraged
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Updated Business and Building Safety Requirements
  • All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75% Occupancy
  • Child Care May Open Complying with Guidance
  • Congregate Care Restrictions in Place
  • Prison and Hospital Restrictions Determined by Individual Facilities
  • Schools Subject to CDC and Commonwealth Guidance
Social Restrictions
  • Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited
  • Restaurants and Bars Open at 50% Occupancy
  • Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50% Occupancy and by Appointment Only
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities, and Personal Care Services (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50% Occupancy with Appointments Strongly Encouraged
  • All Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) Open at 50% Occupancy
    Construction Activity May Return to Full Capacity with Continued Implementation of Protocols
  • All businesses must follow CDC and DOH guidance for social distancing and cleaning
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

For Individuals

Unemployment Compensation

If you are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation (UC) or Workers’ Compensation (WC) benefits.

The following changes to UC have been made to help Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The Waiting Week is suspended. Previously, claimants were not eligible for benefits during their first week of unemployment (the “waiting week”). This has been suspended; eligible claimants may receive benefits for the first week that they are unemployed.
  • Work Search and Work Registration requirements are temporarily waived for all UC claimants. Claimants are not required to prove they have applied or searched for a new job to maintain their UC benefits. Claimants are also not required to register with PACareerLink.gov.

In addition to regular state Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits, which provide roughly half of an individual’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week, the federal CARES Act expanded UC benefits through several new programs:

Other Financial Help

Credit Cards

If you have seen a reduction in pay due to COVID-19 and are struggling to make your credit card or loan payments, contact your lender right away.

Regulatory agencies have encouraged financial institutions to work with customers impacted by the coronavirus.

For guidance visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or contact a credit counselor near you.

Mortgage or Rent

If you can’t cover your mortgage payment or rent, contact your lender or landlord immediately. Do not wait until you’re behind on payments.

Some lenders may work out an agreement with you to waive late fees, set up a repayment plan or offer loan forbearance.

Utilities

On March 6, 2020, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman signed an emergency order prohibiting terminations by utilities that are under the PUC’s jurisdiction, including:

  • Electric
  • Natural Gas
  • Water
  • Wastewater
  • Telecommunication
  • Steam

This memorandum is in place for as long as Governor Tom Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster is in effect.

If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your service provider for possible emergency assistance programs.

Food Assistance

Food Pantries

Food pantries continue to operate throughout Pennsylvania, although some have updated hours and all are working on ways to connect people with food without risking contact.

Find a pantry near you, then give them a call to make arrangements.

Find out more about how to get emergency food assistance.

Meals for Students

The Pennsylvania Department of Education received approval from the federal government to allow K-12 schools in Pennsylvania closed due to COVID-19 to serve meals offsite to students.

These meals will be available at no cost to low-income children and make it possible for kids to receive nutritious meals and snacks while schools are temporarily closed.

See a county map of schools and districts distributing meals at no cost to children under age 18. For more information, contact your local school.

Grocery Help for Low-Income Individuals

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps families, older adults, and individuals pay for groceries. Benefits are loaded onto an EBT card, which can then be used to purchase food at grocery stores, supermarkets, some farmers markets, and other stores that accept SNAP.

Emergency SNAP applications can be expedited and issued in five days. Pennsylvanians can apply for SNAP online.

Food for Women, Children, and Families

WIC helps with nutrition for pregnant women, nursing women, postpartum women, and infants and children younger than 5. Benefits can be used for approved grocery items at stores that accept WIC.

Apply by calling the toll-free hotline at 800-WIC-WINS, or start your WIC application online.

Meals for Older Adults

Area Agencies on Aging continue to provide meals for older adults throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Call your local Area Agency on Aging and request that you be connected with meals.

Driver Services

Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers remain closed in red phase counties.

Certain Driver License Centers in yellow phase counties have reopened with limited services. Photo License Centers process photos only, and individuals must have a camera card for this service.

Driver’s License and Photo ID Card Renewals

All customers who renew their driver’s license or photo ID card online or through the mail will receive a new product using the most recent photo of that individual that exists in PennDOT’s system. No camera cards will be issued to these customers, and they will receive their new product by mail within 15 days. The renewal process is complete when the final product is received.

Both non-commercial and commercial drivers may renew their products through the mail.

Individuals who renewed their product on or before May 10, 2020 will receive a camera card in the mail and will need to visit a PennDOT Photo License Center to obtain an updated photo. Additionally, non-U.S. citizens must also visit a driver’s license center in person to complete a transaction.

More information on changes being implemented as part of PennDOT’s response to COVID-19.

Expiration Dates

Effective May 1, 2020, driver’s licenses, photo ID cards, learner’s permits, and camera cards scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2020 – are extended through June 30, 2020. A camera card is considered a driver’s license, so it is covered by the same terms and conditions extending other driver’s license products.

Safety inspections and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through May 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended through June 30, 2020.

Persons with Disabilities parking placards scheduled to expire from March 16 through May 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended through June 30, 2020.

Vehicle registrations of all classes which includes, but not limited to, mass transit vehicle registrations, apportioned vehicle registrations, fleet vehicle registrations, dealer plate registrations, temporary registrations and biennial farm exemption certificates scheduled to expire from March 16 through May 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended through June 30, 2020.

REAL ID

The Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from October 1, 2020, to October 1, 2021, in response to COVID-19 and the national emergency declaration. Find out more about REAL ID in Pennsylvania.

More Resources

For Businesses

Businesses in the Red Phase

Life-Sustaining Businesses

Governor Wolf has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8 p.m. March 19, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Enforcement actions against businesses that do not close physical locations are now in effect.

Business guidance has been updated after conversations with businesses, stakeholders, and individuals and has been aligned with guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure issued by the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency advisory.

Restaurants and Bars

All restaurants and bars have been ordered to close their dine-in facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so, but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced steps to enforce this order beginning on Wednesday, March 18 at 8:00 PM.

Businesses offering carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage should employ social distancing best practices and be aware of the Trump Administration’s guidance to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.

Failure to Comply and Enforcement

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions.

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce the closure orders to the full extent of the law:

  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions

Private businesses, local organizations and other noncompliant entities that fail or refuse to comply with the governor’s orders that protect the lives and health of Pennsylvanians will forfeit their ability to receive any applicable disaster relief and/or may be subject to other appropriate administrative action. Such action may include termination of state loan or grant funding, including Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project (RACP) grant funding and/or suspension or revocation of licensure for violation of the law.

Finally, in addition to any other criminal charges that might be applicable, the Department of Health is authorized to prosecute noncompliant entities for the failure to comply with health laws, including quarantine, isolation or other disease control measures. Violators are subject to fines or imprisonment.

Guidance and Resources

Businesses in the Yellow Phase

On May 4, 2020, Governor Wolf provided guidance that details procedures businesses must follow to conduct in-person operations in counties that move to the yellow phase of reopening.

All businesses, including non-profits, permitted to conduct in-person operations are subject to this guidance. This guidance is based on the building safety and business safety orders, under which nearly all life-sustaining businesses have been operating during the red phase.

Under the yellow phase of reopening, life-sustaining businesses that could not conduct either all or part of their operations via telework will continue to conduct their operations in-person, and many non-life-sustaining businesses will be permitted to restart their in-person operations through the loosening of some restrictions under the stay-at-home and business closure orders.

Protecting Employees

All businesses that have been conducting their operations in whole or in part remotely through individual teleworking must continue telework operations for each of those employees.

All businesses conducting in-person operations must:

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch areas frequently and continue to regularly clean all other areas of the building(s).
  • Establish and implement a plan in case the business is exposed to a probably or confirmed case of COVID-19 that includes:
    • Securing and decontaminating the affected areas by:
      • Closing off areas visited by the person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID19;
      • Opening outside doors and windows and using ventilation fans to circulate air in the area;
      • Waiting at least 24 hours, or as long as practical, before cleaning and disinfecting the affected area;
      • Cleaning and disinfecting all shared areas such as offices, bathrooms, break rooms, shared electronic equipment (tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls) and ATM machines used by the sick person;
    • Identifying employees who were in close contact (within about 6 feet for 10 minutes or more) with a person with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 from the period 48 hours before symptom onset to the time at which the patient isolated.
      • If any employee who was in close contact remain) asymptomatic, the employees should adhere to the practices set out by the CDC in its April 8, 2020 Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practice for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19;
      • If the affected employee becomes sick during the workday, the person should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in the employee’s workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Information on other employees who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 48 hours prior to symptoms should be compiled. Others at the workplace with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time are considered exposed;
      • Promptly notify employees who were close contacts of any known exposure to COVID19 at the business premises, consistent with applicable confidentiality laws.
    • Taking each employee’s temperature before they enter the business and sending home those who have a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher. Ensure employees practice social distancing while waiting to have temperatures screened;
    • Informing employees that if they have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath), they should notify their supervisor and stay home;
    • Advising sick employees to follow CDC-recommended steps, including not returning to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with health care providers and state and local health departments;
    • Employers are encouraged to implement liberal paid time off for employees who do not return to work for the reasons set forth above.
  • Prevent large groups from entering or leaving the building by staggering work start and stop times;
  • Limit the number of people in employee common areas, like locker rooms or break rooms, and ensure these areas are cleaned frequently;
  • Conduct meetings and trainings virtually. If a meeting needs to be held in person, limit the number of employees to 10 and maintain a social distance of six feet;
  • Make sure employees have access to soap and water to wash their hands, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes;
  • Provide non-medical masks for employees to wear at all times and make it mandatory to wear masks while on the work site. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees according to Department of Health policies;
  • Make sure the facility has enough employees as applicable to follow these protocols and conduct business effectively and safely;
  • Discourage non-essential visitors from entering the business premises;
  • Communicate these procedures to all employees to ensure that everyone knows how to be safe.
Protecting Employees That Serve the Public

Any business that serves the public inside a building or other defined area must follow the above guidance and take the additional precautions listed below:

  • Conduct business with the public by appointment only, whenever possible;
  • If appointment-only service is not feasible, limit the number of people inside the building to no more than 50% of the total maximum occupancy;
  • Modify the hours of business so that there is enough time to clean and restock;
  • Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers, or take other measures to maintain social distancing between customers and employees;
  • Encourage customers to use online ordering by providing delivery or pick-up options;
  • Designate a specific time for people at high risk, including those over the age of 65 to use the business at least once a week;
  • Require all customers to wear masks while on the premises. Businesses that provide medication, medical supplies or groceries must provide an alternate, no contact, means of delivering goods for customers who cannot wear a mask.
    • However, individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) may enter the premises and are not required to provide documentation of such medical condition.
  • In businesses with multiple check-out lanes, limit use to every other register. After every hour, rotate customers and employees to the previously closed registers and clean the previously open registers and the surrounding areas;
  • Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour; and
  • Assign an employee to wipe down carts and handbaskets before the customer uses it.

No business is required to conduct in-person operations, and should not do so if the business is unable to do so in accordance with this guidance. Businesses permitted to conduct in-person operations that are unable or unwilling to comply with these requirements may engage in curbside delivery to customers so long as strict social distancing and other mitigation measures are followed.

Businesses serving the public that inherently involve close contact with customers, and therefore cannot attain social distancing, are not permitted to conduct in-person operations until the county in which the business is located transitions to the green phase, when the building safety and business safety orders are lifted.

Enforcement

Enforcement of the Secretary’s Order Directing Building Safety Measures began at 12:00 AM on Monday, April 6, 2020. Enforcement of the Secretary’s Order Directing Public Health Safety Measures for Businesses Protection Order began at 8:00 PM on Sunday, April 19, 2020.

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic to the full extent of the law:

  • Department of Health
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Labor and Industry
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions.
  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Law enforcement officers should refer to Enforcement Guidance available online here.

If employees or customers want to report possible health and safety violations in the workplace related to COVID-19:

  1. File a complaint with a local health department or a law enforcement agency.
  2. Submit this webform to the PA Department of Health.
  3. Review OSHA guidance and, if appropriate, file a complaint at OSHA.gov.
Requirements for Communicating with Employees and Any On-site Customers about COVID-19 Safety

Businesses conducting in-person operations or serving the public are required to make employees and customers aware of the guidance provided by the commonwealth to keep people at their establishment safe. In addition, businesses are required to publicly acknowledge their responsibility to conduct their operations to ensure the health and safety of employees.

Businesses must print, sign, and post the “COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses” flyer on their premises. Businesses must post the signed flyer in employee common space and, if the business serves the public, the business must also post the flyer near the business’s public entrance(s) in prominent location(s).

Businesses must sign the flyer on the space provided. The signature is an acknowledgement that the owner or management is aware of the COVID-19 safety procedures and understands their responsibilities to carry out the guidance and procedures.

The flyer must be signed by the business’s corporate officer, site manager, site foreperson, or equivalent. The flyer also contains a space for the business to indicate the employee who is the “Pandemic Safety Officer,” or the person in charge of the COVID-19 safety procedures for the business (specific workplace). The signed acknowledgement and Pandemic Safety Officer designation should not be returned to the Commonwealth – it must be simply posted and available if requested by local law enforcement.

The Commonwealth encourages businesses to share this guidance or the flyer electronically with employees as well. There is no requirement to submit a safety response plan to the Commonwealth.

NOTE: There are two versions of the flyer. One is a document that can be printed on ONE 8.5×14-inch (legal) piece of paper. The other is a document that can be printed on TWO 8.5×11-inch (letter) pieces of paper. Businesses can choose which version to use and post and do not have to use both versions.

COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses Flyer

Resources and Loans

COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program

We are no longer accepting applications for the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program. All funding has been exhausted. However, low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania is now available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (see below).

Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information can be found here as they become available.

U.S. Small Business Administration

On March 19, 2020, Governor Wolf announced the availability of low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Loan applications can also be downloaded at sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Completed applications should be returned to the local DLOC or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

More Resources

Was this Helpful ?

PA Keystone Logo

WORK SMART. LIVE HAPPY.