COVID-19: Are Face Masks Mandatory in Pennsylvania?

Face Masks

Getty People wearing face masks in an almost empty station.

On April 3, the CDC and the American government began recommending that people wear face masks or face coverings when out in public in an attempt to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The CDC says that due to recent studies, it now “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

They have added that these can be simple cloth face coverings “fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost.” They clarified that they do not recommend that people buy or wear surgical masks or N95 respirators, since these are essential for healthcare workers and are already in short supply.

Although this is only a recommendation and voluntary, some cities are starting to implement mandatory mask-wearing and many people in Pennsylvania are wondering, are face masks mandatory in the state?

The state government has not made face masks mandatory in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf is asking all Pennsylvanians to wear face masks voluntarily, however with the idea that “my mask protects you, your mask protects me.”

He said: “If you have to go out, wear a mask.” Gov. Wolf’s wife, Frances, shared her guidance on making a mask yourself at home. She said she doesn’t have a sewing machine and made it easily by hand: “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

The State of Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf & the Pennsylvania Department of Health Are All Encouraging Mask-Wearing With the #MaskUpPA Campaign

The health guidance to wear a mask is being highly encouraged with the #MaskUpPA campaign promoted by the state, Gov. Wold and the Department of Health. The Department of Health also reminded people that homemade masks are a great option and N95 respirators and surgical masks should be saved for front line responders.

They added: “It’s important that as many people as possible wear masks when leaving home.”

The state of Pennsylvania Twitter account echoed the face covering guidance, and also added instructions on making a homemade mask:

Some Cities Are Starting to Implement Mandatory Mask-Wearing for Residents

Although mask-wearing in public remains a only strong recommendation at this time in Pennsylvania, some cities are starting to implement stricter guidelines around required mask-wearing. The city of Miami Beach, Florida has said that face coverings must be worn in certain places by workers and customers, including restaurants and grocery stores. This measure is set to take effect on Monday evening.

The city of Laredo, Texas took things one step further and is fining people up to $1,000 if they are out in public without their faces covered. This includes gas stations, businesses and public transportation. Face coverings are not required while exercising outdoors or in a private vehicle.

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