Pa. mask mandate ends Monday

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s masking order for those who aren’t fully vaccinated for COVID-19 comes to an end Monday morning.

“We are continuing to make progress toward stopping the spread of COVID-19 throughout the commonwealth, as many Pennsylvanians have taken responsibility for their own health and the health of their communities by getting vaccinated,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “Even though the universal masking order will be lifted in a few days, businesses, organizations, health care providers and other entities maintain the option of requiring employees, guests or customers to wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status.”

Gov. Tom Wolf announced on May 4 that the mask mandate would end on June 28 or when 70 percent of the adult population became fully vaccinated.

By Friday, 59.4 percent of Pennsylvania adults were fully vaccinated, while 74.9 percent of adults had received at least one COVID vaccine dose.

Beam said the department continues to urge Pennsylvanians to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for wearing a mask where required by law, rule, and regulations, including health care, local business and workplace guidance.

For the protection of themselves and others, individuals who have not yet been vaccinated or are partially vaccinated are still encouraged to wear a mask when in public, health officials said.

“As we shift to wearing masks less often, it is important to remain resilient in the fight against COVID-19, just as we have done together over the last year and a half,” Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “The COVID-19 vaccines are the best tools we have to defeat COVID-19. Pennsylvanians are aware of this and have been getting vaccinated. If you have not already been vaccinated, there are plenty of options available near you. Getting as many Pennsylvanians vaccinated as possible will offer more protection against the virus for everyone and is the fastest and safest way for us to return to our normal activities,” she said.

Pennsylvania ranks 8th among all 50 states for first doses administered by percentage of population.

The move to end the mask mandate comes as the General Assembly has continued to push back on the administration’s emergency powers. This week, lawmakers sent Wolf Senate Bill 618, which would bar local, county or state governments, school districts and most colleges and universities from demanding proof of COVID vaccination from people seeking service. The same legislation would also limit the secretary of health’s ability to issue public health orders, like the mask mandate.

Lyndsay Kensinger, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Wolf plans to veto the bill because it “would undermine any attempt to protect public health in any circumstance.”

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