HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) – Pennsylvania will lift all COVID-19 restrictions on Memorial Day – with the exception of orders to wear a mask in public – the Wolf administration said Tuesday.
Capacity restrictions for bars, restaurants and indoor and outdoor gatherings will be lifted on May 31, more than a year after the pandemic began.
The state made the announcement via press release with little fanfare.
“We continue to make significant strides in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. As more Pennsylvania adults get vaccinated and CDC guidelines evolve, we can continue our reopening efforts,” Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said in the statement.
With effect from May 31, we are canceling COVID reduction orders.
The masking order will be cleared when 70% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.
Help us clear the masking order sooner. Find a vaccine appointment near you: https://t.co/4UeI1Bx6rO. pic.twitter.com/o2vebK3lot
– Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) May 4, 2021
The health department said an order requiring people to wear masks from home will be lifted once 70% of Pennsylvanians 18 and over are fully vaccinated. That percentage was almost 42% on Tuesday, according to federal data, while 63% of those over 18 had at least one dose.
Pennsylvania revised its masking arrangement last week to align with new federal recommendations that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear them outside unless they are at a crowded event.
The health department said communities and school districts can continue to impose their own restrictions. Other government mandates, including the requirement that hospitals and long-term care facilities report new infections, remain in place.
Tuesday’s announcement promised relief for the state’s beleaguered restaurant industry, which has been complaining about capacity constraints for months.
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“The final schedule will give owners and operators time to plan, but for far too many companies that have closed in the past few months, this announcement is too late,” said John Longstreet, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association .
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Tuesday afternoon that the city was aware of this plan and would review it, but was not making any changes to its COVID restrictions for the time being.
The City of Philadelphia may adjust the state-issued COVID restrictions to suit local conditions.
The following was released from Wolf’s office on Tuesday afternoon:
The Wolf Administration announced today, in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, that the mitigation orders, with the exception of the masking, will be lifted on Remembrance Day, Monday, May 31, at 12:01 a.m.
The current requirement that Pennsylvanians wear masks will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvanians 18 and over are fully vaccinated. Face coverings must be worn indoors and outdoors when you are not at home. According to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians are not required to wear a mask during certain activities.
“We continue to make significant strides in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. As more Pennsylvania adults get vaccinated and CDC guidelines evolve, we can continue our reopening efforts,” said Alison, acting secretary of the Department of Health, Beam said. “I encourage Pennsylvanians to take crucial steps to get out of this pandemic by getting vaccinated, adhering to both doses if you are receiving the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continuing steps like masking, frequent hand washing and disinfecting as well to undertake social distancing. “
Requirements such as testing and reporting new cases for hospitals and long-term care facilities remain. By maintaining requirements for hospitals and long-term care facilities, Pennsylvania can continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 while lifting other restrictions.
The Department of Health recommends Pennsylvanians refer to CDC guidelines and recommendations regarding ongoing COVID-19 safety measures and procedures.
These updates will not prevent municipalities and school districts from continuing and implementing more stringent mitigation efforts.
“With millions of Pennsylvanians being vaccinated, it is time to plan the transition to normal,” said Senator Art Haywood. Hospital stays and deaths are declining. This action is an important step forward today. “
“While the restrictions put in place at the beginning of the pandemic were a great source of frustration for many Pennsylvanians and corporations, it is the collaboration of this non-partisan task force that enables us to finally roll back the restrictions and get us back to normal life “said Senator Ryan Aument.
“After more than a year, I am thrilled that we can lift these restrictions so we can move on to a more normal life,” said Rep. Tim O’Neal. “This will help strengthen our economy and help our small businesses who have sacrificed so much due to COVID-19. Thank you to the Pennsylvanians who chose to vaccinate. Your efforts helped us arrive today . “
“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made with vaccinations across Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Bridget Kosierowski. “The cancellation of damage control orders on Memorial Day and the announcement that masking orders will be lifted once 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s adults are fully vaccinated are all benefits of keeping track of scientific medical research and data. Many sacrifices were made over the past year while we were Waiting for Help Aid is now here in the form of a vaccine and we must do everything we can to encourage everyone to get their vaccination so that we can overcome this pandemic. Let’s follow science because this is the path we are all on return to normal. “
The governor’s proclamation on the disaster for the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place.
All Pennsylvanians 16 and over can schedule a COVID-19 vaccine. The provider card is available on the Ministry of Health website. Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health helpline at 1-877-724-3258.
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