Gov. Wolf: Some pandemic restrictions loosened
Governor Tom Wolf loosened some pandemic restrictions today, including rules about out-of-state travel and capacity limits for public events.
Now residents leaving the state don’t have to provide proof of a negative COVID test upon return; or quarantine for 14 days.
Wolf is raising capacity limits for indoor and outdoor events to 15% and 20%, respectively. The lifted orders do not change rules for restaurants, bars, alcohol sales, wearing masks or other social distancing mandates put into place over the last year.
“Pennsylvania is taking a measured approach to revising or lifting mitigation orders,” Wolf said. “The reason we are seeing cases drop can be attributed, in part, to people following the mitigation efforts we have in place. Mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene are making a difference; and need to continue even as we see more and more people fully vaccinated.”
Hospitalizations drop, positivity rate down
The loosening of pandemic restrictions came as COVID-19 hospitalizations fell over the weekend.
Those hospitalizations fell to just below 1,900. The positivity rate for tests for the week ending Feb. 18 stood at 6.5% – less than half of the rate measured during the virus’s second peak in December.
“We need to balance protecting public health with leading the state to a robust economic recovery,” Wolf said. “We are lifting mitigation efforts only when we believe it is safe to do so.”
Wolf declared his 4th state of emergency in February, putting the state under a state of emergency for a full year by the time the current declaration ends. He claims the continued emergency powers are necessary to protect Pennsylvanians until vaccinations against the coronavirus provide “herd immunity.”
Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.