Wolf lifts COVID-19 mitigation orders on May 31, except mask wearing

Borys Krawczeniuk, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.
·3 min read

May 4—Pennsylvania will lift all orders centered on curbing COVID-19's spread on Memorial Day, except for wearing masks, state officials announced Tuesday.

That day, May 31, restaurants and businesses will no longer have occupancy limits and restrictions on gatherings will end, too.

Wearing a mask will remain required until at least 70% of Pennsylvanians 18 and older have received vaccinations against the virus, Gov. Tom Wolf's administration and the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force said.

Pennsylvania requires wearing a mask indoors and outdoors away from home, but the state follows federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and allows fully vaccinated people to go without masks outdoors when not among crowds and indoors among others already vaccinated.

"We continue to make significant progress in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and as more Pennsylvania adults get vaccinated and guidance from the CDC evolves, we can continue to move forward with our reopening efforts," Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said in a statement. "I encourage Pennsylvanians to take the critical steps needed to put this pandemic behind us by getting vaccinated, follow through with both doses if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continue to take steps like masking, frequent hand-washing and sanitizing and social distancing."

Hospitals and long-term care centers will still have to test for the virus and report new cases so the state can closely track COVID-19's spread while lifting other restrictions.

The changes will not block cities, boroughs, townships and school districts from continuing or implementing stricter mitigation measures.

"With millions of Pennsylvanians getting vaccinated, it's time to plan the transition back to normal," said state Senator Art Haywood. "Hospitalizations and deaths are down. This action today is a key step forward."

"I am proud of the progress we have made with vaccinations throughout Pennsylvania," said state Rep. Bridget Kosierowski. "Lifting mitigation orders on Memorial Day and announcing that masking orders will be lifted once 70 percent of Pennsylvania's adults are fully vaccinated are all benefits from following the scientific medical research and data. Many sacrifices had been made over the past year while we waited for help. The help is now here in the form of a vaccine and we must do everything we can to encourage everyone to receive their vaccination so we can overcome this pandemic. Let's follow the science, because it's the path to us all returning to normalcy."

All Pennsylvanians ages 16 and older are eligible for vaccines.

The state Department of Health reported 3,133 more cases today for a total of 1,161,619, and 58 new deaths, raising the total to 26,334.

The region added 230 new cases and four deaths, increasing the total cases to 74,604 and the death toll to 1,794.

By county:

Lackawanna added 44 cases for 17,853 total, including 2,770 probable. Two new deaths raised the total to 460.

Luzerne added 83 cases for 30,610 total, including 2,398 probable, and remained at 794 deaths.

Monroe added 56 cases for 14,094 total, including 418 probable, and remained at 300 deaths.

Pike added 17 cases for 3,794 total, including 388 probable, and remained at 54 deaths.

Susquehanna added 10 cases for 2,479 total, including 300 probable, and remained at 60 deaths.

Wayne added 13 cases for 3,923 total, including 400 probable. and One new death raised the total to 78.

Wyoming added seven cases for 1,851 total, including 326 probable. One new death raised the total to 48.

Contact the writer: bkrawczeniuk@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9147; @BorysBlogTT on Twitter.