Pennsylvania Strengthens Mask Mandate, Adds Testing Requirement for Travelers

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Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, speaks during a press conference addressing the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania, inside PEMA headquarters on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced new targeted mitigation measures Tuesday as the state tries to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Levine announced new travel restrictions, called for widespread testing of college students and strengthened the state’s mask mandate. All the measures take effect Friday, Nov. 20.

Under the current mandate, masks are not required indoors if people are maintaining distance of six feet or more.

The updated mandate requires masks to be worn at all times whenever people are together indoors with others who don’t live in their household, even if they are physically distant from each other. This applies to all indoor facilities, including schools, gyms and homes.

“Masking is one of the simplest steps we can all take to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Levine said. “If you have people in your home that are not part of your household, you must wear a mask.”

Masks must still be worn outdoors, when around others who do not share a household and social distancing cannot be maintained.

Additionally, Levine announced new testing requirements for travelers. Visitors to Pennsylvania must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of visiting the state, or quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. This also applies to Pennsylvania residents who are returning to their home from travel outside the state. The restriction does not apply to those who commute into the state for work, or come seeking medical treatment.

Levine also called on colleges and universities to test all students at the beginning of each term and when they return from break, and have adequate space for isolation and quarantine.

A memo was sent to acute care hospitals outlining expectations to care for Pennsylvanians who need care during the pandemic.

Stronger enforcement measures are not included with these new restrictions.

“It really is the responsibility of businesses to enforce the universal masking orders,” Levine said. “We want people to come together and we will stand united to be able to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“In the end, people will will have the consequences of their actions as well as their families and their communities,” she added. “And if they if they do not wear masks because they do not social distance, then those communities are going to see even more spread of COVID-19.”