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Levine orders all employees, customers to wear masks

Starting Sunday, employers must require all employees and customers to wear masks at work, under an order issued today by state Health Secretary Rachel Levine. The order also requires companies to provide masks for workers, and deny entry to customers who are not wearing one.

Failure to comply could result in citations, fines or license suspension, officials said.

Levine outlined the protocols in a press release on Wednesday, adding that the order is meant to increase worker and customer safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This order will ensure continuity across all life-sustaining businesses and will further our efforts to protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” Levine said. “Together, we can all help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

As a part of the new protocols, employers must:

  • Provide masks to employees and mandate that they wear them when they aren’t eating or drinking.
  • Stagger work start and stop times to limit gatherings of large groups entering or leaving the business.
  • Provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals.
  • Conduct meetings and training virtually.
  • Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the business.
  • Ensure that the business has enough employees while maintaining social distancing.

If an employee suspects, or is confirmed, to be infected with COVID-19, employers are asked to conduct temperature screenings before employees enter the business and send anyone home with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Upon discovery of a positive case, employers must:

  • Close off and ventilate areas visited by that person.
  • Wait a minimum of 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting all spaces.
  • Alert employees who were in close contact with the individual.

Along with all of the above protocols, businesses operating a public building are ordered to:

  • Require all customers wear masks on the premises and deny entry to those not wearing masks. If the business provides medication, medical supplies or food, it must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods.
  • Conduct business by appointment or at an occupancy less than 50%.
  • Alter hours of business to allow for additional time to clean and restock.
  • Install shields or other barriers at restaurants.
  • Encourage use of online ordering
  • Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly people at least once a week.
  • Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour.
  • Assign an employee to wash down carts and hand baskets.

The order will be enforced by a group of state agencies, including the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the departments of Health, Agriculture and Labor and Industry, the Pennsylvania State Police and local officials.

Ioannis Pashakis
Ioannis Pashakis covers health care, the gig economy, cannabis and technology. Email him at ipashakis@bridgetowermedia.com.

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