Pennsylvania will lift its mask mandate for all residents outside of Philadelphia on June 28, or when 70% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, acting health secretary Alison Beam announced Thursday.
”That puts the future in the hands of all Pennsylvanians,” Beam said. “If you are 12 or older, we want you to get one of the three safe and effective vaccines that are readily available. If you have already received the vaccine, talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors, and encourage them to join you.”
The commonwealth had previously announced that it would lift the mask requirement when 70% of adult residents had completed their inoculations. With Pennsylvania this week becoming the 10th state to have 70% of its adults receive at least one dose, it is on track to reach the fully vaccinated threshold by the end of June.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks outdoors and in most indoor settings, prompting some businesses in the area to no longer require that patrons wear masks. But Beam said the possibility of the state lifting its own mandate remains a motivator for residents.
”That has been requested from folks across the commonwealth,” she said, “and so we want to be able to empower folks to know that it’s in their control when we reach that point when we’re lifting that masking order.”
The lifting does not apply to Philadelphia, which has often been more strict than the commonwealth with its coronavirus rules.
Beam spoke Thursday ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, and four days before Pennsylvania is set to lift all of its coronavirus mitigation measures except for the mask mandate.
On Monday, restaurants, bars, stores, salons, gyms, theaters, event venues, nightclubs, and other businesses will be able to open at 100% capacity for the first time in more than a year, and crowd-size limits will be lifted on all indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Even when the commonwealth’s mask mandate is lifted, businesses, school districts, and municipalities can still require masks, Beam said.
”Likewise, some folks may make the personal choice to continue wearing a mask,” the secretary said. “We ask that Pennsylvanians continue to be kind and respectful to each other as we continue to fight COVID-19 in our communities.”