Pennsylvania directive makes mask-wearing mandatory

KYW Staff
July 01, 2020 - 3:20 pm

    PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) Face masks have been required in businesses and stores, but now, face coverings are mandatory at indoor and outdoor public places across the commonwealth, according to Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine.

    On Wednesday, Levine expanded a business safety order, originally from March, to now require mask-wearing statewide. The directive says masks must be worn whenever anyone leaves their home, effective immediately. 

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    According to the order, face coverings must be worn:

    • outdoors if you cannot maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from another person who is not part of your household;
    • in any indoor public place;
    • on public transportation or in ride-sharing cars;
    • at hospitals, pharmacies, dental offices, veterinary clinics, and blood banks;  
    • and in the workplace or a space visited by members of the public.

    The rule applies to everyone over the age of 2.

    People with medical conditions — like respiratory problems, mental health issues, or disabilities — are exempt from the order. People who operate certain equipment for work are exempt too, if wearing a mask creates an unsafe environment. Documentation proving these exemptions is not required. 

    Any of the governor’s directives are enforceable, from a legal perspective, by local law enforcement, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

    “So that would mean your municipal police department,” he explained, “and where you don’t have local police, it’s enforced by the state police.”

    Gov. Tom Wolf said the order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania. He added that some coronavirus hotspots can be traced to situations where residents were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

    Since March, more than 87,000 Pennsylvanians have contracted the virus, and nearly 7,000 have died.

    Last week, Philadelphia health officials also required face coverings citywide.