Jackson Kelly PLLC

The Legal Brief

What Yellow Phase in Pennsylvania Means For Your Business

May 8, 2020

By: Michael P. Leahey and Derrick L. Maultsby Jr.

On March 19, 2020, Governor Wolf ordered that all non-life sustaining businesses close, and followed with a stay at home order on April 1, 2020. On May 8, 2020, the Governor transitioned 24 counties around Pennsylvania from red phase to yellow phase to begin reopening the state incrementally.  Governor Wolf also announced that Allegheny County and other southwestern Pennsylvania counties will also transition to yellow phase on May 15, 2020. Yellow phase counties will begin to reopen under guidelines provided in the most recent Order, which also include several elements of the red phase. 

Who Can Open in Yellow Phase 

A key component of yellow phase is the limited reopening of businesses. Under Governor Wolf’s Order, a business that is situated in a yellow phase county may begin operations so long as they are a business that was restricted from operating in-person during red phase. These businesses must comply with all necessary health and safety orders from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 

Who Cannot Open in Yellow Phase 

While the yellow phase will see many businesses resume their operations, there are exceptions under the Order that will continue to restrict some businesses’ operations. Specifically, the restaurant industry will still be prohibited from offering dine-in services though it can continue to serve customers through takeout, delivery, and drive through options. Additionally, businesses that offer indoor recreation, health and wellness, personal care services, or entertainment must remain closed in yellow phase. These businesses include: 

  • Gyms; 
  • Hair & Nail Salons; 
  • Massage Therapy; 
  • Spas; 
  • Casinos; and 
  • Theaters

Looking Forward

Businesses should assess the transition from red phase to yellow phase in their operations by carefully reviewing the Order and guidance from the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Links are provided here and here for convenience. For guidance regarding preparations and operations, our attorneys are available by phone and email to assist, even while we comply with the current restrictions.


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