Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has directed businesses in the state to provide their employees with masks and has suggested that those who do not wear masks while shopping be denied service during the coronavirus pandemic.
Wolf’s remarks and the order came during a news conference on Wednesday. In addition to businesses being required to provide face masks for employees, the order also states that businesses must stagger work schedules in an attempt to prevent large gatherings.
Today @GovernorTomWolf + @SecretaryLevine announced an order providing worker safety measures to combat #COVID19. Measures include:
😷 providing masks for employees to wear
🕒 stagger work start/stop times
📏 provide space for breaks/meals while maintaining social distance of 6'
— PA Department of Health (@PAHealthDept) April 15, 2020
According to Wolf, the order, which will begin on Sunday at 8:00 p.m., will also apply to customers and will “require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food.”
Those who cannot wear a face mask due to health conditions will not be required to do so and will be forced to provide medical documentation. Children under the age of two will also not be required to wear a mask.
Penn Live outlined the order, which was detailed in Wolf’s press release:
- Stores and businesses must alter hours of business so that there is sufficient time to clean or to restock or both.
- Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers or take other measures to ensure social distancing of customers from check-out personnel, or close lines to maintain a social distance between of 6 feet between lines.
- Encourage use of online ordering by providing delivery or outside pick-up.
- Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once every week if there is a continuing in-person customer-facing component.
- In businesses with multiple check-out lines, only use every other register, or fewer. After every hour, rotate customers and employees to the previously closed registers. Clean the previously open registers and the surrounding area, including credit card machines, following each rotation.
- Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour.
- Where carts and handbaskets are available, assign an employee to wipe down carts and handbaskets before they become available to a new customer.
Businesses who fail to comply with the order risk the loss of their business license, fines, and citations. According to Wolf, state agencies including the Health, Agriculture, and Labor and Industry departments, the state police, Liquor Control Board, and local officials will enforce the order.
Amid the new order, Wolf hinted at the concern over the state’s economy and said, “We’ll soon be moving into a reopening phase.”
In March, Gov. Wolf ordered that all non-essential businesses close and eventually ordered the closure of non-life-sustaining operations.
“Our essential employees stepped up to the plate and are keeping us safe, healthy, fed, and sheltered during this time,” Wolf said during a video press conference. “We all need to thank them by doing everything we can to prevent ourselves from spreading the virus to them.”
According to Penn Live, “1 million Pennsylvanians have filed unemployment claims.” The state remains under a stay-at-home order until April 30.
As of Wednesday evening, Pennsylvania has more than 26,490 confirmed cases of coronavirus and at least 647 deaths in the state due to coronavirus-related issues. Of those that have died, 324 were in long-term care facilities.