Mandatory mask order now in effect in Pennsylvania

Mandatory mask order now in effect in Pennsylvania

Masks must now be worn whenever anyone leaves home, according to a new order signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Wednesday that the order takes effect immediately.

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“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing – two practices that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening.”

The order outlines the situations when a mask must be worn and includes limited exceptions to the face-covering requirement.

The mask-wearing order will be sent to state and local officials, law enforcement and others tasked with education about the order for those not in compliance.

According to the order, Face coverings are required if you are:

  • Outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from individuals who are not a member of your household.
  • In any indoor location where members of the public are generally permitted.
  • Waiting for, riding on, driving, or operating public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing service.
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic or blood bank.
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting in-person with any member of the public, working in any space visited by members of the public, working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others, working in or walking through common areas, or in any room or enclosed area where other people, expect for members of the person’s own household or residence, are present when unable to physically distance.

Here are the exceptions to the face mask requirement, according to the order:

  • Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition, including those with respiratory issues that impede breathing, mental health condition or disability.
  • Individuals for whom wearing a mask while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines
  • Individuals who would be unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • Individuals who are under two years of age
  • Individuals who are communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

The order says individuals are not required to show documentation that an exception replies.

The order also applies to children and adults in schools, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education:

“Yes, this Order applies to all individuals while in school entities, including public K-12 schools, brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers (CTCs), intermediate units (IUs); educational programming for students in non-educational placements such as residential settings (boarding schools), residential facilities, detention centers, and hospital settings; PA Pre-K Counts, Head Start Programs and Preschool Early Intervention programs; and Private Academic Nursery Schools and locally funded prekindergarten activities. 

For the safety of students, staff and families, and to avoid community spread of COVID-19, students and staff are considered to be members of the public who are congregating in indoor locations. As such, they are required to adhere to this Order.

The Order is effective immediately and applies to all children aged two and older.”

Schools may allow students to remove their face coverings when students are:

  • Eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart;
  • Seated at desks or assigned work spaces at least 6 feet apart; or
  • Engaged in any activity at least 6 feet apart (e.g. face covering breaks, recess, etc.).
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