Pa. enforcing face mask requirement to protect essential workers from COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Wearing a mask in an essential business in Pennsylvania is no longer a strong suggestion. It is now a requirement, part of an order signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine that focuses on protecting essential workers.

Now customers and workers must cover their faces at businesses like grocery stores and post offices. 

Levine says it's up to businesses to enforce the rule — at least right now. Stores can deny entry to people who do not have something to cover their face.

“If someone comes to a store and is not wearing a mask, then they’ll most likely be asked to go home and to get a mask," Levine said.

“The masks that we are asking people to wear are cloth masks. Those are the cloth masks you can buy in a store or on the internet. Or a cloth mask you make yourself.”

Their purpose is to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Health officials say that anyone, including people who are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19, may be a carrier of the virus.

“We expect that Pennsylvanians will do the right thing, and the shops and businesses will do the right thing, and that everyone will be wearing a mask, which protects our community," she said.

Officials say, even with masks, people should not make non-essential trips. Everyone is still expected to maintain social distancing and to wash their hands frequently. 

New Jersey started to enforce a similar statewide rule on face masks a few weeks ago.

In Delaware, masks are recommended, but they are not yet required.