Pennsylvania sharpens mask mandate, orders virus testing

Henrietta Brewer
November 20, 2020

This order applies to every indoor facility, including homes, retail establishments, gyms, doctors' offices, public transportation, and anywhere food is prepared, packaged or served.

An updated mask mandate for Pennsylvania says everyone is required to wear a mask while away from home, indoors or outdoors. The state reported more than 5,000 new infections per day, up more than 115% in just two weeks, and hospital admissions and positive tests rose sharply. If people are outdoors and can not be socially distant from someone who does not live in their home, they should wear a mask.

Pennsylvanians visiting other states are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their return to the commonwealth or to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.

Strengthening the mask order to require a mask indoors anytime that you are around people, even if social distancing is possible, and when hosting others from outside your home.

Despite the rapidly rising numbers - Pennsylvania has broken its daily case record every day for the past week - Levine emphasized that the responsibility for mitigating the virus falls on individual people and businesses to get themselves tested and enforce mask mandates.

This does NOT apply to people who commute between New Jersey and Pennsylvania for work.

Anyone coming into the state is to have a negative test within 72 hours before entering into Pennsylvania or "must quarantine for 14 once (they) arrive into our state", Levine said.

The testing positivity rate has increased and deaths are on the rise, as well. "These targeted mitigation efforts, combined with existing ones, are paramount to saving lives and protecting our economy", Gov. Wolf said.

"Whether we have to do anything else really depends upon you".

Levine said that while there is no enforcement in regards to traveling, the Pennsylvania government is asking people not to travel, especially out of state and especially for the holidays. "And if we all do our part, and we stand united, then we might not need any further mitigation measures".

The departments of Health and Education also issued recommendations for colleges and universities to implement a testing plan for when students return to campus following the holidays.

Governors and mayors across the country have tightened restrictions in response to the worsening epidemic.

Pennsylvania already has a statewide mask mandate, restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings and occupancy restrictions in bars and restaurants. On Monday, Philadelphia said it would ban indoor gatherings, indoor dining, indoor casinos, gyms, museums and libraries.

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