Mask wearing mandatory
Pa. order now in effect until ‘further notice’
LEWISTOWN — Gov. Tom Wolf and state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine released an expanded mask-wearing order Wednesday, effective immediately, requiring people to wear a face covering in any public space in Pennsylvania in which physical distancing cannot be practiced or maintained. The order states it is in effect until further notice.
According to the order, face coverings must be worn if people are outdoors and unable to maintain at least six feet of space between themselves and anyone who is not a member of the same household, in any indoor location in which the general public is permitted, while waiting for or riding on public transit or in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle, obtaining health care services, engaged in work when interacting with the public, entering any public space or common area, working in any area where food is prepared for the consumption of others or in any room or enclosed area where other people who are not members of the same household are present and physical distancing cannot be observed.
The order was met with criticism from one local lawmaker.
“In his new masking order, the governor attributes new COVID-19 hotspots to situations where people ‘were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing,'” said Republican state Rep. John Hershey, whose district includes a portion of Mifflin County and all of Juniata County. “He should have considered following his own advice when protesting with thousands of others. The governor needs to stop making rules that are good enough for the rest of us, but not good enough for him.”
Face coverings are defined in the order as any device covering the nose and mouth held to the face by straps, ties or loops or is wrapped around the lower face. Bandannas, scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts and towels utilized in a manner that covers the face and nose are permitted. Masks can but are not required to be professionally manufactured and can be made of many fabrics such as cotton, silk or linen. Plastic face shields are also acceptable under the order.
Exceptions are granted to people who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition, people for whom wearing a mask while at work would be unsafe, people who cannot remove a mask without assistance, children who are younger than 2 years of age and people who are attempting to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired and for whom seeing the mouth is essential for communication.
The order specifies that documentation is not necessary to prove that an exception applies.