After a sustained period of decreasing cases and a phased reopening plan now nearly complete, Pennsylvania has begun to see a rise in COVID-19 cases in certain regions of the state. The Wolf Administration has responded by issuing a mask mandate and a quarantine advisory for travelers returning from states seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
On July 1, 2020, Governor Wolf announced that his Secretary of Health issued a revised health safety order that mandates all Pennsylvanians to wear masks whenever they leave their homes and are unable to maintain a social distance of six feet from non-household members. Previously, the Secretary of Health issued an order requiring masks only when entering businesses and stores. The new order does have exceptions for those who have a medical condition or job duty preventing the proper wearing of a mask. This order is in effect immediately and law enforcement is tasked with educating the public regarding the order and enforcing it when necessary.
On July 2, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a COVID-19 travel advisory. Unlike the quarantine mandates and advisories announced by New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, this order merely recommends quarantine at home for 14 days for travelers returning from 15 states with identified COVID-19 surges and there is no enforcement mechanism suggested in the advisory. The list of states that would trigger the quarantine recommendation are currently Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Also unlike the Tri-State announcement, Pennsylvania’s advisory does not include a method by which the Wolf Administration determined which states are subject to the travel advisory. Without any further information provided in Pennsylvania’s travel advisory, it can be assumed that Pennsylvania is utilizing a calculation similar to that of the Tri-State advisory which looks to those states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. Employers will need to consider whether to incorporate this travel advisory into their return-to-work plans in light of its non-mandatory nature.
Seyfarth continues to monitor the Wolf Administration’s business-related orders in response to COVID-19 and will provide further updates as available.