Pennsylvania now require faces masks for anyone working or shopping at a grocery store or pharmacy within the Commonwealth. Previously, Governor Wolf recommended that all Pennsylvanian’s wear a mask anytime they leave their home, but this new order imposes a mandatory requirement.
Under the new order, employers must provide face masks for all employees to wear at work and maintain a work environment that adheres to social distancing (6 feet). This includes providing employees with enough space to have breaks and meals. The order further limits in person meetings to 10 employees and encourages virtual meetings wherever possible. Finally, the order requires employers to schedule hand washing breaks at least every hour.
Governor Wolf’s order also requires businesses to make changes to the business property. The order requires that businesses install shields or other barriers at registers and check out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers. Businesses must also limit occupancy to no greater than 50% of their certified capacity and post signage throughout the premises to ensure social distancing for customers and employers. New Jersey already has all of these requirements.
Employees and Homemade Masks – Are they acceptable?
Employees can use homemade masks, but employers must make sure that they meet specific department of health and CDC guidelines. Don’t assume your mask is compliant
Can a Business Deny Entry for not Wearing a Mask?
YES, but there is an exception for businesses that provide medication, medical supplies, or food. In those situations, businesses must provide pick up or delivery service.
Who is Exempt from Face Mask in Pennsylvania?
Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to medical conditions are exempt and no medical documentation whatsoever is required under the order.
Other Business Requirements
Businesses must alter hours to allow time to clean and must use every other register or fewer within the store. The cleaning requirement applies to registers, credit card machines, carts, and hand baskets.
What if a Business has a Positive COVID-19 employee?
If a business finds out that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, it must implement temperature screening requirements for all employees and dismiss any employee with an elevated temperature of or above 100.4°. Businesses must also implement liberal paid time off for all employees who are home on isolation.
What Type of Fines or Penalties Could a Business Face for Non-Compliance?
Businesses who choose or fail to meet the requirements of the mandatory order are subject to citations, shut down, fines, and possibly even revocation of their business operating license. All these penalties could last beyond the shut down and possibly lead to criminal action against employers.
What if a Person Does Not Comply with the Order?
In most situations a person will face a summary offense in Pennsylvania where the maximum punishment is 90 days of county incarceration and a $500 fine. There is little if any likelihood that a person will be incarcerated for disobeying the order but a substantial fine or citation is likely.
As I have written in previous blogs, if the police are called due to a person’s non-compliance there is a strong likelihood that a person could face additional criminal charges such as aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and disorderly conduct if the situation escalates.