Legal Update

Nov 19, 2020

Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Issue New COVID Mitigation Orders Affecting Business and Travel

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As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced additional mitigation orders on November 17, 2020 relating to interstate travel and mask wearing.  These Pennsylvania orders are effective as of 12:01 am on November 20, 2020

Additionally, the city of Philadelphia announced its own local mitigation orders, including business shutdowns, stricter capacity limits, and heightened mask mandates.  The Philadelphia order is effective at 5:00 pm on November 20, 2020 and expires (as of now) on January 2, 2021. 

Pennsylvania Orders

Travel Testing and Quarantine Order

Per Dr. Levine’s order, anyone planning to enter Pennsylvania from any other state must take an authorized COVID-19 test and receive a negative result within 72 hours prior to entering Pennsylvania.  Anyone who cannot get a test or otherwise chooses not to get tested must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania.  This applies equally to Pennsylvania residents visiting other states and returning to Pennsylvania as it does to non-Pennsylvania residents visiting Pennsylvania. 

However, the order specifically excludes:

  1. anyone who commutes to and from another state for work or medical treatment;
  2. military personnel ordered to travel to Pennsylvania; and
  3. individuals who are merely travelling through Pennsylvania and make minimal travel stops for restrooms, gas, and highway rest stops. 

Amended Mask Order

Dr. Levine also issued a revised mask order that expands upon her July 15, 2020 mask order.  The order requires anyone age two and older to wear a mask in Pennsylvania when:

  1. Indoors or in an enclosed space, where another person or persons who are not members of the individual’s household are present in the same space, irrespective of physical distance.
  2. Outdoors with others who are not members of a person’s household and unable to maintain sustained physical distance of at least six feet for a daily cumulative total of 15 minutes.
  3. Participating in permissible indoor or outdoor events, gatherings, or group settings where another person or persons, who are not members of the individual’s household are present.
  4. Participating in indoor physical activity in a gym, fitness center or group fitness classes, where another person or persons who are not members of the individual’s household are present in the same space, irrespective of physical distance.
  5. Waiting in a public area for, riding on, driving or operating public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle, irrespective of physical distance.
  6. Obtaining services for themselves or another person or a pet from the health care sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank.
  7. When working in any space where food is prepared, packaged for sale, or prepared for distribution to others.

Exemptions from the mask-wearing mandate remain in effect for the following specifically enumerated situations:

  1. When working alone and isolated from interaction with other people with little or no expectation of in-person interaction, such as an enclosed personal office.
  2. If wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability.
  3. If wearing a face covering while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  4. When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity.
  5. While obtaining a service that requires the temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services.
  6. If an individual is 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

Finally, the order provides specific obligations for businesses, including: (1) require that all employees, customers, and visitors wear a mask and take reasonable steps to enforce the requirement; (2) minimize exposure that employees, customers, and visitors have to anyone who cannot or refuses to wear a mask; (3) post prominent signage announcing the mask-wearing requirement; and (4) provide accommodations for those who say they are medically unable to wear a mask.

Philadelphia Orders

The November 16, 2020 order issued by the City of Philadelphia provides that several businesses and other activities are not allowed, including:

  1. In-person education instruction for high school and colleges.
  2. Indoor dining.
  3. Theaters, including movie theaters, and other performance spaces.
  4. Bowling alleys, arcades and game spaces.
  5. Museums and libraries.
  6. Recreational activities and sports for youth, community groups, and schools.
  7. Gyms and indoor exercise classes, though exercise groups and classes may continue outdoors.

The order specifically provides a list of businesses and other activities that may continue to function subject to current state and city guidance, including:

  1. Grocery stores and farmers markets.
  2. Home-based construction, renovation, repair, and maintenance.
  3. Manufacturing and warehousing.
  4. Real estate operations and transactions.
  5. Health care services.
  6. Home-based support services, such as home health services.
  7. Taxis and ride share services.
  8. Child day care and early learning centers.
  9. Elementary and middle schools.
  10. Barbershops, beauty salons, and similar personal services may continue to operate, but all staff and customers must wear masks at all times such that these businesses cannot work on the face or otherwise perform services that require that masks be removed.
  11. Outdoor dining, though restaurants must reduce table sizes to four people.
  12. Retail stores and indoor malls may continue to operate, but with a maximum density of 5 people per 1,000 square feet.

The order requires all individuals to wear masks at all times when they are in the same room or otherwise in the company of someone who lives in a different household, whether indoors or outdoors.

Under this order, business owners will be “liable and subject to fines and penalties” for any non-compliance by its employees, customers, or other visitors to its premises.  Moreover, business owners are required to “prominently display signage” advising its employees, customers, and visitors of the applicable state and city public health safety requirements. 

Seyfarth continues to monitor Pennsylvania’s response to COVID-19 and will provide further updates as available.