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Masks Now Mandatory in All Public Places in Pa., Gov. Wolf Says

by on July 01, 2020 4:32 PM

Masks are now required to be worn in all public places in Pennsylvania, according to a new order signed Wednesday by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

The order aimed at further limiting the spread of COVID-19 expands on a previous one signed by Levine in April that requires the wearing of masks in businesses. Now, with some exceptions, masks must be worn when anyone leaves their home.

“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “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.”

According to the order, individuals must wear face coverings if they are:

- Outdoors and unable to maintain a distance of six feet from individuals who are not members of their household

- In any indoor location where members of the public are generally permitted

- Obtaining services from the health care sector such as a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank.

- Engaged in work when interacting with a 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 distribution; working in or walking through common areas; or in any enclosed room where people other than members of their own household are present and unable to physically distance.

The order also includes several exceptions to the masking mandate:

- Individuals who cannot wear a mask because of a medical condition, including those with a respiratory issue that impedes breathing, mental health condition or disability

- Individuals for whom wearing a mask while working would create an unsafe condition to operate machinery or perform 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

- Children under 2

- Individuals who are communicating with a person who has a hearing impairment or other disability where the ability to see the mouth is necessary for communication

Individuals are not required to show documentation that an exception applies.

The Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization both recommend wearing masks or cloth face coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spread easily from person to person, primarily through respiratory droplets produced by sneezing, coughing, talking or breathing. Those droplets can land in the mouth or nose, or be inhaled into the lungs, by another person, especially when people are in close proximity.

A growing number of laboratory and field studies have shown the effectiveness of masks in limiting the spread of those droplets and COVID-19.

Levine, who signed the order under the authority of the the Disease Prevention and Control Act, also cited the numerous public health experts who have called for mask wearing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday that those who don't wear masks "may propagate the further spread of infection.”

“It is essential that Pennsylvanians wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Levine said. “While cases increase in some areas, we cannot become complacent. My mask protects you, and your mask protects me. Wearing a mask shows that you care about others, and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you.” 

The provisions for masking in businesses in the previous safety order signed by Levine remain in effect. Among those, employees at restaurants and bars are required to wear masks, while patrons are required to wear them when entering, exiting or traveling through the establishment, but not while seated.

According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, liquor license holders who fail to comply with safety orders could face sanctions including fines or even the loss of the license.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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