Pennsylvania Sets Date to End Mask Mandate
The news comes as the state's other COVID mitigation rules are about to be lifted.
The requirement to wear a mask in Pennsylvania will end, in most circumstances, no later than June 28. Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam announced the timeline during a briefing Thursday morning.
“After reviewing the vaccination data for people 18 and over and discussing it with the COVID-19 Vaccine Legislative Task Force, we have determined that the commonwealth’s mask order can be lifted on June 28 or when 70 percent of adults get their second dose, whichever comes first,” Beam said.
Yesterday we hit a milestone with 70% of adults receiving at least one dose of vaccine, that’s a strong indicator that we are on track to get at least that many getting both doses by the end of June.”
As of May 26, nearly 53% of those 18 years and older in Pennsylvania were fully vaccinated. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 97.7% of those over 65 have received at least one dose of vaccine.
The lifting of the mask mandate does have exceptions. The CDC still requires individuals to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. In addition, everyone is asked to observe mask requirements in place at workplaces, local businesses, long-term care facilities, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
Beam noted that just because there’s a date to end the mask mandate — regardless of vaccination rates — doesn’t necessarily mean the pandemic is over. She urged people to use caution and to be aware of the risks still posed by COVID-19.
“We’re at a point of transition,” she said. “There’s a point where the state wants to make sure that folks also take self-responsibility for how they’re going to safely conduct their lives and their family’s lives in the communities moving forward.”
All Pennsylvanians age 12 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine. People can find vaccination locations near them using vaccines.gov, also known as Vaccine Finder.
“The Department of Health will continue to make getting a vaccine as convenient as possible by making it widely available and supporting equitable and effective efforts to reach every Pennsylvanian who wants it,” Beam said.
The news comes just as the state’s mitigation orders — save for the mask mandate — are set to expire on Monday, May 31. As of 12:01 a.m. on Memorial Day, restaurants, sports and entertainment venues, stores, other businesses and schools will be able to operate at 100% capacity.
The lifting of statewide restrictions will not prevent municipalities and school districts from continuing and implementing stricter mitigation efforts if necessary. Requirements such as testing and reporting new cases will remain in place for hospitals and long-term care facilities.