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Face masks now mandated statewide

The mandate Gov. Tom Wolf signed Wednesday requiring people to wear masks in public extends to city and county property, and the state police are enforcing guidelines for liquor-licensed establishments throughout the state.

In keeping with the state’s order, Lycoming County commissioners announced that masks will again be required in county buildings. Mayor Derek Slaughter, too, provided an update on busing that, although River Valley Transit personnel would transfer unmasked people on Thursday due to short notice of the order, the public would be required to wear masks on buses thereafter.

Legally defined as “face coverings” in the mandate, masks must cover the nose and mouth, according to a news release. House-hold items such as bandanas, T-shirts, sweatshirts or towels are permissible.

While outdoors, masks needn’t be worn if a 6-foot social distance can be maintained — otherwise, they are required. However, masks are always required indoors where the public is “generally permitted,” according to the release.

Those at work, or even working off-site, must wear masks when interacting with the public or when in a space typically visited by the public or when in a space where food is prepared or packaged. Masks also are required in all businesses when social distance cannot be maintained, unless those people are members of the same household.

That includes bars and restaurants, with members of the public being required to wear masks when entering, exiting or traveling throughout such establishments, according to earlier guidance in June.

Masks are required at every stage of public transportation, taxi services or ride-sharing, even when waiting for or operating the vehicles.

People getting services from the health care sector such as hospitals, pharmacys, medical clinics, laboratories, physicians, dital offices, veterinary clinics or blood banks must also wear masks.

There are several caveats to this mandate excluding some individuals from having to wear masks at all times. Those people are not required to show documentation to anyone.

Members of the public who have medical conditions that impede breathing, have a mental health condition or disability arent required to wear masks, nor are those who are unable to remove a mask without assistance.

If wearing a mask creates an unsafe condition to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by other local, state or federal regulations and workplace safety guidelines, then it is not required.

The deaf or those communicating with the deaf who rely on lip reading to interact, may remove their masks at times.

Children 2 or younger are not required to wear masks.

The governor is constitutionally empowered to carry out and enforce this mandate, as ruled by the state Supreme Court Wednesday. Although the state General Assembly can roll back the powers previously afforded, it cannot dictate how these emergency powers are used.

State police will continue to enforce mandates at liquor-licensed establishments, and retain the right to issue citations, warnings and even revoke or suspend licenses.

“This year, in addition to never driving while under the influence of alcohol, we must all do our part by wearing a mask at bars and restaurants and whenever social distancing is not possible,” Major Jeffrey Fisher, director of the state Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, said in a release.

State liquor control enforcement officers complete 1,565 compliance checks very day and have issued 18 warnings since June 10, according to the release.

“It’s critical that Pennsylvanians take the mandate to wear masks seriously,” Gov. Wolf said, in a release. “This virus is not gone and mask-wearing is a required mitigation effort that we know works to stop its spread.”

For recommendations, not enforceable mandates, the Wolf administration advised self-quarantine for those who have traveled to states with high COVID-19 rates and caution of large groups during the July Fourth holiday.

Those who have traveled to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas or Utah are asked to isolate for 14 days.

Reminding people to stay out of groups larger than about 250 people, Dr. Rachel Levine, state secretary of health, said the green phase is not a green light to ignore safe practices.

“If you do go out and interact with others, wear a mask,” she said in a news release. “My mask protects you and your mask protects me. Wearing a mask shows that you care about others, and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you.”

Wolf said the state has seen evidence that traces COVID-19 to settings where people were not wearing masks.

“This can lead to more and more cases in our state. We have made such tremendous progress, let’s not let that progress go to waste, risking lives and livelihoods,” he said in a release.

“We all must do one simple thing to stop the spread of COVID-19: Wear a mask, Pennsylvania,” he added.

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