Pennsylvania Considers Bill to Make Mask-Less Public Activity a Misdemeanor

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf removes his mask before answering questions from the press.
Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania lawmakers are mulling legislation that would make it a misdemeanor to go out in public without a mask as part of an effort to combat the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

WPXI reports:

A Pennsylvania state senator introduced legislation that would enable authorities to give misdemeanors to people who do not wear masks in public during the COVID-19 pandemic. State Sen. Art Haywood (D) made the announcement a few months ago, and the proposal was formally introduced in the Senate Tuesday as SB-1287. […]

Under the bill, these penalties would go into effect in two months — starting in early November.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering the bill after a federal judge ruled Monday against Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) lockdown measures, calling actions to close “non-life-sustaining” businesses unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV said Wolf’s attempts to combat the virus “were undertaken with the good intention of addressing a public health emergency. But even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered.”

A spokesperson for Wolf said his office will evaluate the ruling.

“The actions taken by the administration were mirrored by governors across the country and saved, and continue to save lives in the absence of federal action. This decision is especially worrying as Pennsylvania and the rest of the country are likely to face a challenging time with the possible resurgence of COVID-19 and the flu in the fall and winter,” Wolf spokesperson Lyndsay Kensinger said in a statement.

Wolf has lifted many of the restrictions since the lawsuit was filed in May, allowing businesses to reopen and canceling a statewide stay-at-home order. But his administration has maintained capacity restrictions and limitations on alcohol sales at bars and restaurants. The state has also imposed a gathering limit of more than 25 people for events held indoors and more than 250 people for those held outside.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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