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State offers guidance for reopenings

Pennsylvanians will have to make appointments for haircuts rather than just walking in, when more businesses reopen under the green phase of the governor’s coronavirus mitigation plan.

Hair salons and barber shops may resume operations, but by appointment only, under guidance offered by the governor’s office this week.

Gyms and spas may resume operations, with appointments or reservations “strongly encouraged.”

Eighteen counties, including Centre and Clearfield, are going green today. Blair and other central Pennsylvania counties are currently listed in the yellow phase.

Also in the green zones:

* Gatherings for concerts, festivals, fairs, conferences, sporting events, movies, theater events and more can be held for up to 250 people, a limit that does not apply to religious gatherings, although religious institutions are “strongly encouraged to enforce social distancing and other mitigation measures such as masking.

* Visits to prisons and hospitals may resume, subject to the discretion of the facility and providing diligent hygiene is practiced by all.

* Nursing home visitation remains prohibited, at least for now.

* Restaurants and bars can begin dine-in service, provided as they adhere strictly to the requirements, including maximum occupancy limits.

At bars, customers must sit at least 6 feet from one another, unless there is a physical barrier between them or they have a “common relationship” and the number is no more than four.

For dining room service:

* Customers must wear masks while entering, leaving and moving through, unless it’s medically problematic, but don’t need to wear masks while seated.

* Employees must wear masks at all times, unless medical conditions make that problematic.

* All cohesive groups must be seated 6 feet away from any other group; or the number of customers must be limited to 50 percent of capacity, based on fire code, or 12 people per 1,000 square feet, if a fire code isn’t applicable; the more restrictive method (table separation or capacity limitation) must be used.

* An employee must be assigned to monitor and clean high-touch areas like entrance doors, bathroom surfaces and host stands.

* Table tops, digital payment devices and other items must be cleaned after each time that a customer group uses them.

* Customers must be kept 6 feet apart in lines through the use of signs and other guidance.

* Areas not essential for preparing and serving food where customers would congregate, such as dance floors, child play areas and video arcades, must be closed.

* Single-use disposable menus are encouraged.

* Barriers are encouraged for cash registers and other stations where physical distancing is difficult.

* Technology like texting is preferred to buzzer devices for letting customers know their table is ready, and “contactless” payment options are preferred to other payment means.

The governor’s office has also released instructions for restaurants in the yellow zone to begin serving customers at outdoor tables.

Those include:

* No customer self-service at drink fountains, buffets or salad bars.

* No reusable condiment dispensers on tables. Employees will dispense condiments on food on customer request.

* No reusable menus.

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association was pleased with the new liberalizations, according to an association news release.

“(But) it has been a struggle,” stated association Executive Director Chuck Moran. “Even though they have been permitted to offer takeout meals and beverages, many were barely keeping their heads above water.”

The restrictions will be “tough,” Moran stated.

“They will challenge each establishment,” he wrote. “But each establishment will do its best to keep patrons as safe as possible.”

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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