PA Updates Mask Guidance to Track CDC

Yesterday, May 13, 2021, the CDC issued Updated Interim Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals under which, among other things, fully vaccinated people are permitted to not wear masks in most situations.  Late yesterday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a press release announcing that the Acting Secretary of the Department’s Amended Mask Order incorporated the CDC Guidance.  In this Client Alert, we unpack the Amended Order and the CDC Guidance that it incorporates.  

Under the revised CDC Guidance, fully vaccinated people—meaning someone who received the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least 14-days ago—no longer need to wear masks or physically distance, whether indoor or outdoor, in most circumstances.  The exceptions to this general rule under the CDC Guidance, or the situations in which a fully vaccinated person must still wear a mask, are as follows:

  • Where required by federal, state, or local rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance; 
  • In correctional facilities; 
  • In homeless shelters;
  • In transportation hubs such as airports and train or bus stations; and
  • While on planes, busses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. 

In addition to the exceptions, the CDC’s Guidance does not apply to healthcare settings, so current healthcare guidance remains in effect and employees and visitors—even fully vaccinated ones—will need to continue to abide by that guidance.

Of additional note, the Amended Order does not seem to adopt the non-mask-related guidelines in the CDC Guidance.  For example, under the CDC Guidance, a fully vaccinated person does not need to quarantine, isolate, be tested, or be restricted from work following a known exposure to someone with a suspected or known case of COVID-19 unless the person begins experiencing symptoms.  Further, fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19 symptoms or known exposures should be exempted from routine screening programs, if feasible.  Pennsylvania’s Amended Mask Order does not expressly address these changes in the CDC Guidance. 

Based on information available to date, we believe all other restrictions remain in effect until further notified by the Governor or the Department of Health, until the restrictions expire on May 31, 2021 pursuant to the Department of Health’s prior announcement.  We will issue additional client alerts if information becomes available. 

If you have any questions regarding the Amended Masking Order, or how to implement it at your business, please contact a MacDonald Illig attorney.