HARRISBURG, Pa. - Under a new order signed by Pennsylvania's health secretary, masks must be worn whenever anyone leaves home, in certain situations, according to a governor's office news release.

State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine signed an order, which takes effect immediately, Wednesday. The new order expands on the business safety order Dr. Levine signed in April that requires the wearing of masks in businesses.

Under the order, people are required to wear face coverings if they are outdoors and are unable to keep a distance of six feet from people who are not members of their households.

People also must wear coverings when they are in any indoor location where members of the public are generally permitted. People need to wear coverings when waiting for, riding on, driving, or operating public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.

Masks must also be worn when people are getting services from the healthcare sector in settings included, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dentist office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank.

People engaged in work, whether at the workplace or doing work off-site, also must wear a face covering.

Some people are exempt from these requirements, such as people who can not wear a mask due to a medical condition. People for whom wearing a mask while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or perform a task are also exempt.

People under two years old and those who would be unable to remove a mask without assistance are also exempt.

Also exempt: people who are communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

The order defines "face covering" as a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face. Face coverings can be made of a variety of synthetic or natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, or linen. Face coverings may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or be improvised from household items such as scarfs, bandannas, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

The mask-wearing order will be sent to state and local officials, law enforcement and others tasked with education about the order for those not in compliance, the governor's office said.

“It is essential that Pennsylvanians wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Levine said. “While cases increase in some areas, we cannot become complacent. My mask protects you, and your mask protects me. Wearing a mask shows that you care about others, and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you."

“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing – two practices that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening.”

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