Heads up, PA employers! The Commonwealth just strengthened its COVID-19 mask and testing rules 😷👩‍⚕️👨‍⚕️

Pennsylvania businesses with employees who report to the office will need to update their workplace policies in light of some new rules effective this week.

On Tuesday, Dr. Rachel Levine announced (here) several new COVID-19 restrictions, two of which I’ll address lazily below by cutting and pasting directly from the press release:

Traveler Testing

Dr. Levine issued an order requiring anyone who visits from another state to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering the commonwealth.

If someone cannot get a test or chooses not to, they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvanians visiting other states are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their return to the commonwealth or to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.

This order, which takes effect on Friday, November 20, does not apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or medical treatment. 

This order’s practical effect is that if you have employees traveling for work or commuting from out of state, this rule will not apply. However, anyone who travels out of state for Thanksgiving will have to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test. That’s not a big deal for remote workers. But that’s a lot of FFCRA leave for folks that generally report to the office.

Hey, I didn’t make the rules.

Strengthened Masking Order

Dr. Levine first issued a masking order on April 15. The order signed [on November 17] strengthens this initial order with these inclusions:

  • Masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home.
  • When outdoors, a mask must be worn if you are not able to remain physically distant (at least 6 feet away) from someone not in your household the entire time you are outdoors.
  • When indoors, masks will now be required even if you are physically distant from members not in your household. This means that even if you are able to be 6 feet apart, you will need to wear a mask while inside if with people other than members of your household. 
  • This order applies to every indoor facility, including homes, retail establishments, gyms, doctors’ offices, public transportation, and anywhere food is prepared, packaged or served.

The practical effect of this order is that if two or more people are at the office, everyone must wear a mask at all times, except when it is unsafe or the employee is working alone and isolated from interaction with other people with little or no expectation of in-person interaction.

There is also an exception for anyone who states (s)he has a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for that person to maintain a face covering. However, businesses may decline service to individuals who are not wearing a face covering or claiming to have a condition preventing them from wearing a face-covering or an alternative to a face covering, so long as they attempt to provide a reasonable accommodation. Accommodations could include an alternative to a face covering, such as the use of a face shield. For customers, that could include providing service options that do not require a customer to enter the business. This may include offering curbside pick-up, delivery, or other innovative solutions.

You’ll also need to post prominent signs visible to all people, stating that the Secretary of Health requires face coverings.

And if you are attending Thanksgiving with friends, neighbors, or others outside your household, bring your mask.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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