Pennsylvania officials are tightening mask requirements in the Keystone State, requiring masks in instances where individuals who are not members of the same household are “present in the same space” indoors, including private residences.
Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s transgender health secretary, detailed the requirements in an updated order Tuesday, explaining that the virus “continues to spread” despite the mitigation efforts implemented earlier in the year. As a result, Levine is looking to universal masking as the first line of defense, claiming that “universal face coverings, even when not clinical-level masks, have been an effective mitigation strategy to prevent and control the spread of disease.”
His letter lists eight instances where a mask is required. The list essentially requires individuals to wear a mask in most instances, unless he or she is within their own household along with members who also reside there.
Per the order, a mask is required “indoors or in an enclosed space, where another person or persons who are not members of the individual’s household are present in the same space, irrespective of physical distance.”
The order does not explicitly provide an exception for gatherings at private residences. The AP also acknowledged that the order applies to private homes but added that the health secretary “acknowledged that officials are relying on voluntary compliance rather than on enforcement.”
“Pennsylvania is making people wear masks inside their homes. Ohio is making people be home by 10:00 p.m. Vermont won’t even let you have friends over. What’s next?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked.
Levine’s order also requires those two yearsiand older to wear a mask when they are outdoors with individuals who are not members of the same household and “unable to maintain sustained physical distance.”
Other instances a mask is required, per the order:
- As permitted in my Order Directing Mitigation Measures, dated July 15, 2020, as amended, for participation in an indoor or outdoor event, gathering, or group setting where another person or persons, who are not members of the individual’s household are present.
- Participating in indoor physical activity in a gym, fitness center or group fitness classes, where another person or persons who are not members of the individual’s household are present in the same space, irrespective of physical distance.
- Waiting in a public area for, riding on, driving or operating public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle, irrespective of physical distance.
- Obtaining services for themselves or another person or a pet from the health care sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank.
- When working in any space where food is prepared, packaged for sale, or prepared for distribution to others. I. Certain facilities—including hospitals, shelters, long-term care facilities, residential treatment facilities, and correctional facilities—may also require visitors and residents, patients, or inmates to wear face coverings even when in a living unit.
There are few exceptions. The order exempts those with certain disabilities or conditions. The order also specifies that an individual does not have to wear a mask when they are in solitude.
“All alternatives to wearing a face covering, including the use of a face shield, should be exhausted before an individual is excepted from this Order,” Levine’s update states.
Levine’s order comes as Democrat leaders across the country retighten coronavirus restrictions ahead of the holiday season, even imposing limits on gatherings in private homes. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has limited gatherings in private homes to ten and has urged local governments to enforce his order.
“The rules are only as good as the enforcement. Local governments are in charge of enforcement. There are only two fundamental truths in this situation: it’s individual discipline and it’s government enforcement. Period. End of sentence,” he said.
“I need the local governments to enforce this,” he pleaded.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has also recommended Chicagoans “avoid all gatherings in private residences.”
“Furthermore, CDPH Health Orders require that indoor gatherings within private residences be limited to six non-household members. The City has the authority to fine individuals for breaking this requirement and hosting large social gatherings in their private residences,” a November 12 press release detailing the “Protect Chicago” strategy states.
Joe Biden (D), citing “health experts” during a Monday press conference,” suggested that Americans limit their Thanksgiving gatherings to “maximum ten people, socially distanced, wearing masks.”
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