Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH) Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine signed an order Wednesday requiring Pennsylvanians to wear face-covering masks whenever they leave home. The order expands on the business safety order signed by Levine in April that requires the wearing of masks in businesses. Wednesday’s order, signed under Levine’s authority under the Disease Prevention and Control Act, takes that a step further, goes into effect immediately, and will remain in place until further notice.
Dr. Levine’s order states that Pennsylvanians must wear a face covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, loops, or straps over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face when they are:
- Outdoors and unable to maintain a consistent 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;
- Waiting for, riding on, or are operating public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle;
- Obtaining services in a healthcare sector including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank; and/or
- 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 any room or enclosed area where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or residence, are present when unable to physically distance.
The order has limited exceptions to the face-covering requirement, including:
- Those who have medical conditions that impede breathing, mental health conditions, or disabilities;
- Those for whom wearing a mask would create an unsafe working condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state, or federal workplace safety guidelines;
- Those who would be unable to remove a mask without assistance
- Individuals under 2 years of age; and/or
- Individuals who are communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired or has some other disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication.