PA adapts to new COVID-19 plan starting Memorial Day


Graphic courtesy of Canva.

Cael Kratzer, Opinion Contributor

Since scientists identified the coronavirus in December 2019, the pandemic has been a big deal. COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives in one way or another, like wearing masks or things being more difficult to do. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf presented a plan to begin a return to normalcy, a plan that many are grateful to see.

With most states moving, Gov. Wolf said, starting on Memorial Day Monday many restrictions will be lifted. According to a news release, the update will not prevent municipalities, school districts, restaurants, and venues from putting their own, stricter COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place. CDC guidance still recommends social distancing for schools, restaurants, venues, and other facilities.  This move will help grow our economy and assist our small businesses that have sacrificed.

Unfortunately, for many, this is too late.

Wolf’s office announced on Tuesday, May 11 that the maximum occupancy limits of events and gatherings will be increased to 50% indoors and 75% outdoors starting Monday, May 17th at 12:01 a.m. Many believe these numbers are arbitrary without science to back them up. The change comes a week after he announced the COVID-19 mitigation orders would be adjusted, with the exception of wearing a mask, by Memorial Day. The current order will be in place until 70 percent of Pennsylvanians 18 and older are fully vaccinated, Wolf’s office said. The Pennsylvania Health Department reports that just over half of Pennsylvanians are vaccinated at this time. This may also encourage others to get the vaccine.  

While some might argue that the pandemic is improving, and we shouldn’t change things, I believe it’s necessary to have some return to normalcy. People of all ages need to socialize and see friends and family they haven’t seen.  They need to exercise freely and enjoy life.  By taking a step in this direction, Wolf has made the right decision. 

As far as the mask mandate, I think this is a strong compromise in keeping people safe.  Masks have proven to protect people from the virus.  Where appropriate, it doesn’t affect one’s lifestyle to wear a mask, so we can continue to see progress as we slowly open up the state. However, while I’m convinced a mask mandate is the right thing to do, I also respect those who object and believe this was a step too far.

Wolf’s changes in the plan for Pennsylvanians will bring back a small sense of normalcy in a state that has been locked down for over a year.  While mask use is still necessary, this is a small price to pay for being able to visit your favorite restaurant or go to a public pool this summer.