Posted on May 28, 2021
On May 27, 2021, the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Alison Beam, announced that the Commonwealth’s mask order will be lifted by June 28, 2021.
This announcement comes after a continued improvement in vaccinations for those 18 and older. Beam stated:
“After reviewing the vaccination data for people 18 and over and discussing it with the COVID-19 Vaccine Legislative Task Force, we have determined that the commonwealth’s mask order can be lifted on June 28 or when 70 percent of adults get their second dose, whichever comes first. Pennsylvanians are realizing that they have the power to stop COVID-19 and they are stepping up to get vaccinated.
Yesterday we hit a milestone with 70 percent of adults receiving at least one dose of vaccine. That’s a strong indicator that we are on track to get at least that many getting both doses by the end of June.
The Department of Health will continue to make getting a vaccine as convenient as possible by making it widely available and supporting equitable and effective efforts to reach every Pennsylvanian who wants it.”
Once the statewide masking order is lifted, both vaccinated and unvaccinated Pennsylvanians will only have to wear a mask in limited circumstances. These circumstances, as outlined by the CDC, include on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations.
Some states have enacted laws that prohibit local governments and school districts from implementing their own mask mandates once their respective statewide mandate has been lifted. Pennsylvania has not taken this approach.
As such, even when the statewide mask mandate lifts, Pennsylvanians must still be mindful to follow all laws, rules, regulations, and requirements as outlined by local governments, workplaces, local businesses, long-term care facilities, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
Also, although Pennsylvania will be lifting its mask mandate in the near future, employers should still consider their obligations under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) before doing away with face covering requirements and other COVID-19 mitigation measures. OSHA may still enforce an employer’s obligation to provide a safe workplace deriving from its Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, which identifies face coverings as an example of a measure that will limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
However, OSHA has just announced that it is reviewing the recent CDC guidance relaxing the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals and will update its materials on its website accordingly.
The announcement from the Health Acting Secretary may be found here.
For more information, please contact Sarah Holland.