Whenever the designation comes, will Bucks and Montgomery counties make it as “yellow” regions? Will a slight reopening send frustrated residents out lightheartedly ignoring safety practices? Will reopening too soon end up a mistake? An increase in COVID-19 cases is likely, I think, because of two things: we’re bored and the virulent viral strain remains a threat here.

Turning “yellow” from the “red” phase is like making a traffic light. Feels pretty good, right? If we’re not careful, however, we’ll be ticketed and sent back to the starting line. We must play safely and continue to follow the rules. Remember, this is a public health issue, not a political game, and there are serious, even deadly consequences for moving too quickly.

In the meantime, we have this development: Bike shops, construction companies, painters and plumbers are among 348 job sectors in Bucks County that have been given the OK to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic that has sidelined non-essential workers for a couple months. No matter the county’s color, these guys are back.

In all, the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has informed more than 6,000 businesses statewide they can go to work. They were granted an exemption to Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 order closing all non-essential businesses in the state to slow spread of the virulent strain. COVID-9 has to date killed more than 3,700 statewide, including more than 345 n Bucks.

Nearly 43,000 businesses in Pennsylvania sought the exemption, according to DCED at dced.pa.gov. Life-sustaining businesses like pharmacies, grocery stores and gas stations have operated since the start of the shutdown period.

Some businesses do not appear on the DCED list but may support or provide goods and services necessary for life-sustaining businesses to continue to operate. “For example, a manufacturer may be required to close under the orders, but may make products required by the healthcare industry,” according to the department.

The Bucks businesses are limited to perform the work described in their request for exemption. Said DCED: “Businesses that received exemptions may not conduct non-life-sustaining activities that are not encompassed in their exemption requests.”

Reopening the economy is vital and critical for many unemployed people. We should do it, but move carefully especially in the Bucks and Montgomery areas where COVID-19 still thrives. If we’re colorblind, we’re back at Day One in the shutdown.

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