Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s restrictions complied with the recommendations of public health experts. — Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News via AP, File

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Tuesday that all COVID-19 restrictions — except mask-wearing — will be lifted after midnight on Memorial Day.

That means restaurants and businesses will no longer have capacity limits, among other things.

Face masks will be required until 70% of the state’s adult population is fully vaccinated.

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“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,” said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam in a statement.

“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.”

The news does not apply to Philadelphia, which has its own COVID-19 mitigation measures. And any municipality or school district can continue to implement stricter restrictions after 12:01 a.m. on May 31 if they so choose.

Pa. launches vaccine hotline for residents with intellectual disabilities

The state Department of Human Services has announced a specialized vaccine hotline for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities or autism and their caregivers.

The effort comes on the heels of a Jefferson Health study that identified intellectual disability as the biggest risk factor for COVID-19 mortality, following age.

Officials are working with RiteAid to make the vaccine scheduling process as easy as possible.

Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities or autism or their caregivers can call 1-800-424-4345 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

They’ll reach the Office of Developmental Programs, which will then figure out the most convenient RiteAid location for the caller and arrange transportation or onsite accommodations.

Acting Secretary Meg Snead said the hotline would serve anyone with a disability age 16 or older, regardless of their enrollment in any state programs.

“This hotline will help us ease potential barriers and ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as their caregivers, are able to get this life-saving vaccine,” she said.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania President and CEO Matthew Aaron said his organization would also begin outreach efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy among those with disabilities.

“One of our primary concerns now is making sure that nobody gets overlooked or left behind,” he said. “And that’s where organizations like Special Olympics and The Arc [of Philadelphia] can really play an important role. Our constituents know us and they trust us.”

Last day for first Pfizer doses at Philly FEMA sites

Tuesday marks the last day people living or working in Philadelphia can get a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the city’s FEMA-run vaccination sites: the Center City Vaccination Center, located at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in Hunting Park.

The Convention Center site has the capability to deliver 6,000 vaccine doses per day, but with tapering demand and more than 250 mobile and neighborhood vaccination clinics, it will soon cease operations.

Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be made available at the Convention Center through Wednesday, May 26.

Starting Tuesday, May 11, the Convention Center will offer second doses of the Pfizer vaccine and single doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine concurrently.

The Esperanza Community Vaccination Center, which has the capacity to vaccinate more than 1,000 people per day, will close June 4.

Those interested in getting vaccinated can schedule an appointment online or walk up to one of the two FEMA sites (no appointment necessary). Residents should bring proof of residency, like a driver’s license or utility bill.

As of Monday, Philadelphia has reported 139,482 cases of COVID-19, including 3,477 deaths. More than 1.2 million vaccine doses have been administered, with over 500,000 people fully vaccinated against the virus.

By Wednesday, both the Convention Center and Esperanza sites will have delivered nearly 300,000 vaccine doses, according to FEMA.

The city’s number of daily positive COVID-19 cases has led the city’s Department of Public Health to roll back restrictions for restaurants and allow indoor catered events for the first time in more than a year.

Starting Friday, May 7, indoor dining capacity for restaurants will increase from 25% to 50%. Establishments that meet enhanced ventilation standards will be allowed to expand their capacity from 50% to 75%.


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