Pennsylvania's New COVID Guidelines, Wearing Masks at Home Rule Explained

Pennsylvania has strengthened its mask requirement as part of new efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. The new guidelines include requiring masks to be worn inside the home in certain situations—but when do you need to wear a mask?

Pennsylvania's mask order has been strengthened to include the following requirements:

  • Masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors away from the home.
  • Masks are required to be worn outdoors when social distancing of six feet is not possible for the entire time.
  • Masks are required to be worn indoors—even with physical distancing—when with members outside of your household.
  • The order applies to all indoor places, including homes, stores, gyms, doctors' offices, public transportation, and anywhere food is prepared, packaged, or served.

Case counts are continuing to rise. Wearing a mask is more important than ever.

Wear a mask to protect others, to protect yourself, and to do your part to stop the spread of #COVID19.

— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) November 18, 2020

When to wear a mask in the house or home

  • The new guidelines require that people wear masks within their homes when they are with people from outside their household, even with social distancing.
  • Therefore, if somebody from outside of your household is at your home, everyone should wear a mask.

Other than the strengthened mask requirement, the latest efforts include a memo to acute care hospitals "outlining expectations to care for Pennsylvanians who need care during the pandemic," which requires hospitals to prepare for supporting each other in the event that a hospital becomes overwhelmed.

The second effort requires anyone who visits from another state or returns to Pennsylvania from another state to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering. If they cannot get a negative result, or choose not to be tested, they must quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Pennsylvania.

The third effort recommends that colleges and universities have a plan for students returning to campus after the holidays, which includes testing, ensuring capacity for isolation and quarantine and preparing to enforce violations of established policies, such as social distancing and wearing masks.

Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement: "It is our collective responsibility to protect our communities and our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians from COVID-19 and to continue to work together to get through this pandemic. These targeted mitigation efforts, combined with existing ones, are paramount to saving lives and protecting our economy.

"The administration will continue to monitor the risks posed by COVID-19 across the commonwealth and will reinstate or institute new targeted mitigation tactics as necessary."

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine added: "We must remain united in stopping COVID-19.

"Wear a mask, wash your hands, stay apart, and download the COVID Alert PA app. If you test positive, please answer the call of the case reviewer and provide information that can help protect others. It's the selfless, right thing to do."

Face mask
A woman wearing a protective mask walks while looking at a cellphone as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 6, 2020, in New York City. Getty/Cindy Ord