As the state continues to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, Governor Tom Wolf has a new order for Pennsylvanians: if you’re leaving your home, wear a mask.
Wolf announced the order on Wednesday after it was signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine under the Disease Prevention and Control Act. Under the order, which takes effect immediately, masks must be worn whenever anyone in Pennsylvania leaves their home with a few noted exceptions.
“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 practicies that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening.”
- Under the order, a face covering means a covering of the nose and mouth that’s secured to the head with ties, straps or loops over the ears or wrapped around the lower face.
- A face covering can be made of several different synthetic or natural fabrics including cotton, silk or linen.
- A face covering includes a plastic face shield that covers the mouth and nose.
- A face covering can be factory-made, sewn by hand or created from household items.
- Face coverings can include the following: scarves, bandannas, t-shirts, sweatshirts, towels.
- Procedural and surgical masks intended for healthcare providers and first responders such as N95 respirators meet those requirements but should be reserved for “appropriate occupational and health care settings,” according to the order.
WHEN TO WEAR YOUR MASK
Under the order, Pennsylvanians should wear masks during the following situations:
- If you’re outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from other people who aren’t members of your household.
- Indoors in a public location where other people are present.
- Waiting for, riding on, driving or operating public transportation, paratransit, a taxi, private car service or ride sharing vehicle.
- Obtaining healthcare services from a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician, dental office, veterinary clinic or blood bank.
- Working, whether at a workplace or off-site, interacting in-person with any member of the public, working in a space visited by members of the public, working in any place where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution, working or walking in common areas, working in any room or enclosed area with other people unless it’s with members of your own household.
PEOPLE WHO DON’T NEED TO WEAR A MASK
- If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, mental health condition or a disability.
- If you have a job in which wearing mask would create unsafe conditions when operating equipment or executing a task, as determined by local, state and federal regulators or workplace guidelines.
- If you’re unable to remove a mask without assistance.
- If you’re under 2 years of age.
- If you’re communicating or trying to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability where the ability to see a person’s mouth is essential for communication.
Under the order, those who are exempt from wearing a mask are not required to show documentation that an exemption applies.