Commonwealth Amends Universal Face Coverings Order to Align with CDC Guidance

covid maskImage by Mohamed Hassan

HARRISBURG, PA — Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam this week amended the existing Universal Face CoveringsOpens In A New Window order, issued on November 17, 2020, to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated PeopleOpens In A New Window. The amended order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 17, 2021 and will remain in effect until further notice.

“The vaccines that are currently available across the state and country are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against severe and symptomatic COVID-19,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “Research has shown that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. However, there is still more to learn about how long protection lasts and how much vaccines protect against new variants of the virus, so some prevention measures will continue to be in place for all people, regardless of their vaccination status.”

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According to the CDC, there are several activities that fully vaccinated people can resume now, as low risk to themselves, while being mindful of the potential risk of transmitting the virus to others. Those activities include:

  • Visiting with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing;
  • Visiting with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing; and
  • Refraining from quarantine and testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic.

However, officials also stated it is important that fully vaccinated people continue to take precautions in public like wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing; avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings; get tested if they experience COVID-19 symptoms; follow guidance issued by employers; and follow travel requirements and recommendations.

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Individuals who are fully vaccinated should also continue to wear a mask, practice physical distancing and follow other prevention measures when visiting unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease and when visiting unvaccinated people from multiple households.

People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 more than two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series or more than two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine. It is important to remember that the current mitigation is still in effect and that physical distancing and capacity requirements for gatherings must still be followed.

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