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Information on the Updated Masking Order


Despite the mitigation efforts that were implemented in the spring and successfully saved lives, the pandemic continues to spread. After a brief decrease in the summer months, case counts and the number of hospitalizations have been rising throughout the commonwealth, surrounding states and the world.

To prevent that spread of this virus while continuing to allow for necessary resumption of economic and social activity, the commonwealth has decided to take steps to ensure that participating in those activities contributes as little danger as possible to Pennsylvanians. Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine's updated masking order requires everyone to wear a mask to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.

When Do I Need to Wear a Mask?

You are required to wear a face mask when you are:

  • Indoors or in an enclosed space with people not part of your household, regardless of physical distance;
  • Outdoors with people who are not members of your household and when you are unable to maintain continuous physical distance;
  • Participating in an indoor or outdoor event, gathering, or group setting with people who are not part of your household;
  • Participating in indoor physical activity in a gym, fitness center or group fitness classes, with people who are not part of your household, regardless of physical distance;
  • Waiting in a public area for, riding on, driving or operating public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle, regardless of physical distance;
  • Obtaining services for yourself or another person or a pet in a health care setting including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank; and
  • When working in any space where food is prepared, packaged for sale, or prepared to be distributed.
  • Certain facilities like hospitals, shelters, long-term care facilities, residential treatment facilities, and correctional facilities may also require visitors and residents, patients, or inmates to wear face coverings even when in a living unit.

Who Does Not Need to Wear a Mask?

All alternatives to wearing a face covering, including the use of a face shield, should be exhausted before an individual is exempted from the order. The following are exemptions to the order:

  • If wearing a face covering while working creates an unsafe condition to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • If wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition or worsen an existing one—such as respiratory issues that make it hard to breathe, a mental health condition or a disability.
  • When necessary to confirm someone's identity.
  • While obtaining a service that requires someone to remove their facial covering temporarily, such as dental services.
  • When working alone and isolated from other people with little or no expectation of in-person interaction.
  • If an individual is communicating or wanting to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability where seeing the mouth is essential for communication.

Resources for More Information

For information on the types of masks, visit here.

For information on mask guidance for children, visit here. Help is available, contact the Crisis Text Line by texting PA to 741-741.       


Date created: 7/2/2020; date updated 11/17/2020