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Mask requirement for employees and customers goes into effect


Harrisburg, PA (AP) — Many Pennsylvania commercial buildings that serve the public will now be required to make sure customers wear masks, and deny entry to anyone who refuses.

The order was officially signed Wednesday by the state health secretary, but it didn’t start being enforced until Sunday night. Monday is the first full day in which Pennsylvanians will be required to wear masks.

Employees will also have to wear face coverings, including those who work at warehouses, manufacturing facilities and other places that remain in business but aren’t open to the public.

Gov. Tom Wolf says the order is meant to protect supermarket cashiers, power plant operators and other critical workers.



Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Dr. Rachel Levine, under her authority as Secretary of the Department of Health to take any disease control measure appropriate to protect the public from the spread of infectious disease, signed an order directing protections for critical workers who are employed at businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

“This order provides critical protections for the workers needed to run and operate these lifesustaining establishments,” Governor Wolf said. “Businesses across the state have already begun to implement many of these protocols on their own, and we applaud their efforts to protect employees and customers.”

“This order will ensure continuity across all life-sustaining businesses and will further our efforts to protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” Dr. Levine said. “Together, we can all help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”


The order establishes protocols to help employees maintain a social distance during work:

• Provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement while at the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with this guidance;

• Stagger work start and stop times for employees when practical to prevent gatherings of large groups entering or leaving the premises at the same time;

• Provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals while maintaining a social distance of 6 feet, including limiting the number of employees in common areas and setting up seating to have employees facing forward and not across from each other;

• Conduct meetings and training virtually. If a meeting must be held in person, limit the meeting to the fewest number of employees possible, not to exceed 10 employees at one time and maintain a social distance of 6 feet.

• Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of employees to perform all measures listed effectively and in a manner that ensures the safety of the public and employees;

• Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of personnel to control access, maintain order, and enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet;

• Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the premises of the business; and

• Ensure that all employees who do not speak English as their first language are aware of procedures by communicating the procedures, either orally or in writing, in their native or preferred language.


Upon discovery of an exposure to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, businesses are also ordered to implement temperature screenings before employees enter the business prior to the start of work and send any employee home who has an elevated temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Sick employees should follow CDCrecommended steps.

Employees should not return to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with the health care providers and state and local health
departments. Employers are encouraged to implement liberal paid time off for employees who are on home isolation.


Upon an exposure, businesses are also ordered to do the following:

• Close off and ventilate areas visited by that individual;

• Wait a minimum of 24 hours, or as long as practical, before beginning cleaning and disinfection;

• Clean and disinfect all spaces, especially commonly used rooms and shared electronic equipment;

• Identify and notify employees who were in close contact with that individual (within about 6 feet for about 10 minutes); and

• Ensure that the business has a sufficient number of employees to perform these protocols effectively and immediately.


In addition to the social distancing, mitigation and cleaning protocols, businesses that serve the public within a building or defined area are ordered to implement the following, based on the size of the building and number of employees:

• Require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods, except individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children the age of 2 years) may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation;

• Conduct business with the public by appointment only and, to the extent that this is not feasible, limit occupancy to no greater than 50 percent of the number stated on their certificate of occupancy as necessary to reduce crowding in the business and at checkout and counter lines in order to maintain a social distance of 6 feet, and place signage throughout each site to mandate social distancing for both customers and employees;

• Alter hours of business so that the business has sufficient time to clean or to restock or both;

• Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers or take other measures to ensure social distancing of customers from check-out personnel, or close lines to maintain a social distance between of 6 feet between lines;

• Encourage use of online ordering by providing delivery or outside pick-up;

• Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once every week if there is a continuing in-person customer-facing component;

• In businesses with multiple check-out lines, only use every other register, or fewer. After every hour, rotate customers and employees to the previously closed registers. Clean the previously open registers and the surrounding area, including credit card machines, following each rotation;

• Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour; and

• Where carts and handbaskets are available, assign an employee to wipe down carts and handbaskets before they become available to a new customer.


Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions. Compliance with the order will be enforced beginning Sunday, April 19 at 8:00 PM.

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic to the full extent of the law:

• Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

• Department of Health

• Department of Agriculture

• Department of Labor and Industry

• Pennsylvania State Police

• Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions


“It is vital that we require businesses to practice these common-sense and scientifically proven safety protocols for the protection of workers and the public at-large. And that is what this order does,” said state Senator Tina Tartaglione, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee. “Many of the measures included in this order were part of legislation that I proposed. I applaud this swift action by Secretary Levine and Governor Wolf to implement these much needed protocols.”

This order follows another order by Dr. Levine providing direction for maintaining and cleaning buildings for businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations under her and Governor Tom Wolf’s life-sustaining business orders announced March 19.

Governor Tom Wolf also recommends that Pennsylvanians wear a mask any time they leave their homes for life-sustaining reasons.


View Secretary Levine’s order as a PDF here or on Scribd.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.


How to make a homemade mask and who they help protect

Harrisburg, PA – Recently, Governor Tom Wolf recommended that all Pennsylvanians wear a mask any time they leave their homes for life sustaining reasons. As COVID-19 cases steadily rise in the state, Gov. Wolf stressed the need to intensify all measures to help stop the spread of the virus.

Click Here to see step-by-step simple guides for creating your own homemade face mask, with a variety of materials and either with sewing or with no sewing.

“Two days ago, I amplified our social distancing efforts by instituting a statewide stay-at-home order, and today I am asking all Pennsylvanians to wear a mask any time they leave their houses,” Gov. Wolf said. “Masks help prevent people from sharing illnesses. But, they don’t do a great job at keeping people from getting sick; and, they’re not foolproof, so it is critical that our first act is to ask ourselves if we really need to leave our house. If we don’t really, truly need to leave, then we shouldn’t.”

Watch this video from US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams as he demonstrates how to create your own face mask.

“Staying home is the most effective way to protect yourself and others against COVID-19,” Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “But, if you must go out because you are out of food or medication, then wearing a mask, or even a bandana across your nose and mouth, could be an extra layer of protection.

“You don’t need a surgical mask – we need those for our health care workers and first responders. We have guidance on universal masking on our website, including instructions on how to make your own mask using materials you have at home.”

Gov. Wolf’s statewide stay-at-home order asks Pennsylvanians in all 67 counties to not leave their homes unless it’s for life-sustaining reasons. On Friday, he asked that wearing a mask during those life-sustaining trips becomes the norm.

“Wearing a mask will help us cut down the possibility that we might be infecting an innocent bystander, like the grocery store cashier, the pharmacist, or someone stocking shelves,” Gov. Wolf said. “These people are keeping us alive by getting us the supplies we need. We owe it to them to do everything we can to keep them safe. Right now, that means wearing a mask.”

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.


Members of the public are encouraged to wear homemade cloth or fabric masks. Save surgical masks and N95 respirators for our health care workers and first responders. Remember this saying: “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”

Wear a mask when:

Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies
Visiting your health care provider
On public transportation
Interacting with customers/clients at essential businesses
Feeling sick, coughing or sneezing
How to make a homemade mask:
Materials needed:

Fabric (100% cotton is most effective)
Fabric Ties
Sewing machine or a needle and thread

Measure and cut two pieces of fabric in a rectangle pattern to fit snugly around the face (size
12 inches by 6 inches is standard for adults).
Tightly sew both layers together on all edges.
Cut fabric ties to fit around the ears.
Sew the ties to the insides of the mask on the smaller edge, repeat on both sides.
Resew the sides to ensure a tight seal between both pieces of fabric and the earpiece.
Help spread the message on social media by downloading and sharing these What Type of Mask do I Need? and How to Make a Homemade Mask graphics. Learn more about universal masking.

Find out more about the difference between homemade masks and masks for health care professionals.

Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is one of the most important steps you can take in staying healthy. When you wash, make sure you:

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations.
If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.



Cover Your Mouth and Nose
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend the routine use of face masks and respirators in the community. Most often, the spread of germs from person-to-person happens among close contacts (within 6 feet).

Avoid Touching Your Face

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Clean Surfaces
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces — especially when someone is ill.

Practice Social Distancing
Stay home as much as you can
Avoid public spaces
Keep at least 6 feet between you and others if you must go out
Don’t attend or host large gatherings
Avoid using mass transit





The Department of Health has received inquiries requesting additional guidance and clarification regarding making and wearing masks in public spaces during the (COVID-19) outbreak. The Department is issuing the below guidance in response.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a type of specialized clothing, barrier product, or breathing device used to protect workers from serious injuries or illnesses while doing their jobs. These include gloves (vinyl, latex or nitrile); gowns; shoe and head covers; mask or respirators (N95 respirator); and other face and eye protection (goggles or a face shield). Health care providers need to use PPE. Healthcare facilities and providers that need additional PPE should refer to this guide.

Use of Fabric or Cloth Masks

Homemade masks made out of fabric and cloth are not considered PPE. However, homemade masks can be an effective complement to handwashing, social-distancing and other mitigation measures. Homemade masks limit the spread of infectious droplets in the air by containing coughs and sneezes.

When a homemade mask can’t be acquired a scarf or bandana can be utilized. By implementing community use of these homemade fabric or cloth masks, everyone will have a higher degree of
protection from this virus.

My Mask Protects You, Your Mask Protects Me

Those who are staying home and have no close contacts who are infected with COIVID-19 don’t need a mask most of the time. However, wearing a nonmedical or homemade mask may be helpful in certain situations or for certain populations*.

• Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies;

• While visiting your health care provider;

• Traveling on public transportation;

• Interacting with customers/clients at essential businesses;

• When feeling sick, coughing, or sneezing;

Because homemade masks protect everyone else from the droplets created by the wearer, it is important that as many people as possible wear these masks when leaving their homes. This helps prevent those who may be infectious but are only mildly symptomatic or not symptomatic from spreading the virus to others in the community. Everyone should remember the phrase “my mask protects you, your mask protects me.” By increasing the overall number of people who are containing their coughs, sneezes, and other droplets, it will help us control the overall spread of the virus.

Help Support Health Care Workers

Do not purchase masks designed for health care professionals. N95 and surgical masks are designed to protect those who are working in high risk situations with a likelihood of exposure. Instead, make your own mask or purchase one from an online small business.

Businesses should consider purchasing homemade or cloth masks for their employees as part of their uniform or in recognition of good public health practices. Businesses should also consider nonpunitive policies that encourage employees to wear masks while at work.

Best Practices for Homemade Masks:

The best practices for making and wearing fabric or cloth masks include:

• Consider buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places;

• Purchase masks made by small businesses, saving medical masks for health care workers;

• Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;

• The mask should fit snugly around the mouth and nose;

• If the mask has a metal wire it should be fitted snuggly to the bridge of the nose.

• Avoid touching the mask while using it, if you do wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub;

• Made out of two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric;

• Be discarded or washed after every use;

• Should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus;

• To remove the mask: remove it from behind, do not touch the front of mask;

• The wearer should immediately wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after removing the mask.

How to Maximize Prevention Efforts:

Wearing a mask alone is not effective in reducing transmission of COVID-19. The below recommendations should be followed by everyone to help slow the spread of and minimize exposure to COVID-19.

• Practice social distancing, meaning staying at least 6 feet apart from others when in public or

• Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or using hand sanitizer when soap and water is not immediately available;

• Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow;

• Avoid touching your face;

• Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces;

• Stay home and limit public outings to only essential, life-sustaining activities.


Populations at Highest Risk:

Defined by CDC as:

• Persons 65 or older

• Persons living in a nursing home facility

• Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma

• Serious heart conditions

• Conditions that can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.

• Severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)

• Diabetes

• Chronic kidney disease and who are undergoing dialysis

• Liver disease


How to Make a Homemade Mask out of Fabric or Cloth:

Below are instructions on how to make a mask at home.

Materials needed:

• Fabric (100% cotton is most effective)

• Fabric Ties

• Scissors

• Sewing machine or a needle and thread


• Measure and cut two pieces of fabric in a rectangle pattern to fit snugly around the face (size 12 inches by 6 inches is standard for adults)

• Tightly sew both layers together on all edges

• Cut fabric ties to fit around the ears

• Sew the ties to the insides of the mask on the smaller edge, repeat on both sides

• Resew the sides to ensure a tight seal between both pieces of fabric and the earpiece