Expanding on the business safety order signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine in April that requires the wearing of masks in businesses, Governor Tom Wolf today announced a new order signed by Dr. Levine that takes the mask-wearing directive one step further.
With this order, signed under Dr. Levine’s authority under the Disease Prevention and Control Act, masks must be worn whenever anyone leaves home. The order takes effect immediately, according to the release on the state website.
“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 such as this: “Under the order, face coverings are required for individuals if they are “outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from individuals who are not members of their households.”
Each of the state’s mitigation efforts has helped to slow the spread of COVID-19, kept our health care systems from being overwhelmed, and allowed for Gov. Wolf’s measured, phased reopening to proceed. But, with nearly every county is the green phase of reopening, complacency cannot be the norm.
“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.”
More and more health experts have called for mask-wearing, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said during a June 30 Senate hearing on COVID-19, “Americans who don’t wear masks may ‘propagate the further spread of infection.’”
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 release.