Beginning today, anyone leaving their homes are required to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to an order issued by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.
The order, which requires universal face coverings both outdoors and indoors, expands upon a previous order issued by the state in April that required businesses to enforce face coverings in their facilities.
Gov. Tom Wolf, announced the new order on Wednesday, pointing to recent increases in COVID-19 cases in the state that he said could be traced back to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
“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.”
As of last Friday, all counties in Pennsylvania except for Lebanon County transitioned to the green phase of Wolf’s reopening plan, which allows for businesses and restaurants to open and for events under 250 people.
The Department of Health announced on Wednesday that there were 636 new positive cases in Pennsylvania, for a total of 87,242 positive cases statewide since the pandemic began.
As part of Levine’s orders, Pennsylvanians are required to wear a face covering if they are outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or are in any indoor, public location.
The order also extends to the workplace, health care facilities and transport including public transportation, taxis, private car services and ride-sharing vehicles.
Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition, children under two, anyone with working conditions that would be unsafe to wear a mask in and individuals such as the hearing-impaired who need to see the mouth for communication are all exempt from the order.
The department has yet to announce penalties for going against the order, but noted that state and local officials and law enforcement will be tasked with educating anyone not in compliance.