COVID-19 cases are still high across the commonwealth, but the phased vaccine rollout is underway. Wear a mask, keep your distance, and stay up to date on Pennsylvania's vaccination program. More on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

Last updated: January 14, 2021

COVID-19 cases are high across Pennsylvania. It’s more important than ever to wear a mask, keep your distance, and download the COVID Alert PA app.

COVID is tough, but together Pennsylvanians are tougher. United, we can defeat the virus. Here are resources to help individuals, families, and businesses do their part.

Keep checking back. This guide will be kept up to date as resources and information change. You can find up-to-date information about cases in Pennsylvania at on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

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COVID-19 Dashboard

Check out the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Dashboard to see up-to-date data on case counts and demographics, hospital preparedness, and testing.

COVID Mitigation in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is uniting against COVID. Here are the mitigation measures in place to keep people safe:

Business, Work, School, Child Care, and Congregate Settings
  • Child care may open, complying with guidance
  • Congregate care restrictions in place
  • Prison and hospital restrictions determined by individual facilities
  • Schools subject to CDC and commonwealth guidance
  • Telework must continue unless impossible
  • Businesses with in-person operations must follow updated business and building safety requirements
  • Face coverings are required in businesses
  • All in-person businesses may operate at 75% occupancy, except where noted
    • Self-certified restaurants may open at 50% capacity for indoor dining
    • On-premises alcohol consumption prohibited unless part of a meal; cocktails-to-go and carryout beverages are allowed
    • Serving alcohol for on-site consumption must end at 11 p.m, and all alcoholic beverages must be removed from patrons by midnight
    • Personal care services (including hair salons and barbershops) open at 50% occupancy and by appointment only
    • Indoor recreation and health and wellness facilities (such as gyms and spas) open at 50% occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged; fitness facilities are directed to prioritize outdoor fitness activities
    • All entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) open at 50% occupancy
  • Construction activity may return to full capacity with continued implementation of protocol
Social Restrictions
  • Gathering limits determined using maximum occupancy calculator
  • Face coverings are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home
  • Unnecessary travel should be limited

Event Occupancy and Gatherings

As Pennsylvania sees an increase in cases, the commonwealth is strengthening gathering restrictions. All large events and gatherings are now reduced until further notice. Use the maximum occupancy calculator to see the latest gathering limitations.

Household gatherings are also advised against when attendees include non-household members.

Local Guidelines

The Wolf Administration supports local officials who choose to maintain additional restrictions. The following counties are under additional local guidelines:

Travel

There are travel requirements in place across Pennsylvania. Visit the Department of Health’s website for the latest travel guidelines.

COVID Mitigation Orders

COVID-19 Vaccine

The first vaccines have been approved for emergency use and are rolling out across the United States. Check out the COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard to track the progress of vaccine distribution in Pennsylvania.

The Department of Health has a plan for rolling out the vaccine, starting with health care workers and long-term care residents, and making vaccinations available for all Pennsylvanians as supply increases.

While vaccines will offer effective protection against COVID, no vaccine is 100% effective. Plus, it will take time to get the vaccine rolled out and get everyone vaccinated.

For that reason, we must continue our best-known risk reduction measures: Wearing cloth face coverings, staying 6 feet from those we don’t live with, avoiding crowds, and practicing good health habits.

Why Vaccines?

Vaccines are safe and are the best way to protect yourself and those around you from serious illnesses.

The COVID-19 vaccine can keep you from getting COVID-19, and may even lessen symptoms if you do contract the virus.

COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.

Learn more about how the government is ensuring the safety of vaccines.

Who Can Get Vaccinated?

Right now, vaccine supplies are limited and will be rolled out in a phased approach in Pennsylvania — starting with health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.

As availability increases, vaccinations will be available to more groups. Learn more about vaccine distribution phases in Pennsylvania.

Once there is enough supply for broader audiences, we will use CDC’s VaccineFinder portal so Pennsylvanians can easily find vaccine locations near them.

Learn more about the CDC’s recommendations.

What If I’ve Already Had COVID?

Because experts don’t know how long immunity lasts after someone get sick with COVID-19, a vaccine would still offer important protection to Pennsylvanians who have already had COVID.

How Much Will Vaccines Cost?

Vaccine doses purchased with American dollars will be provided by the federal government at no cost.

Learn More

Get the latest vaccine updates and answers to frequently asked questions from the Department of Health.

Mask Up, PA

In Pennsylvania, masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home.

When outdoors, a mask must be worn if you are not able to remain physically distant (at least 6 feet away) from someone not in your household the entire time you are outdoors.

When indoors, masks are required even if you are physically distant from members not in your household. This means that even if you are able to be 6 feet apart, you will need to wear a mask while inside if with people other than members of your household.

This applies to every indoor facility, including homes, retail establishments, gyms, doctors’ offices, public transportation, and anywhere food is prepared, packaged or served.

Members of the public should wear homemade cloth or fabric masks and save surgical masks and N95 respirators for health care workers and first responders.

Want to know more? See the frequently asked questions on the Department of Health website for more information on masking in Pennsylvania.

Masks and Businesses

In Pennsylvania businesses, everyone must wear a mask. That includes workers and customers.

Employers are required to provide masks to workers. To help with the sourcing of face masks and other PPE, here is a list of PPE manufacturers and suppliers in Pennsylvania.

If you’d like to file a public health complaint about a business where employees or customers are not wearing masks or a business is not providing or allowing cloth masks, use the Department of Health COVID-19 Complaint Form.

Go here for a comprehensive list of business FAQs on masks.

Enforcement

Given that this is a critical time for mitigation efforts and orders to be followed, the Wolf Administration is stepping up enforcement on the following orders:

  • Out of State Travel
  • Mask-wearing
  • Business Safety, including telework, occupancy, cleaning, social distancing
  • Restaurant Mitigation, including occupancy, masking, social distancing, self-certification
  • Gathering Limits
  • School Attestation and Mitigation

Orders are enforceable as a disease control measure under the Disease Prevention and Control Law. Citations may be written under the Administrative Code of 1929 71 P. S. § 1409 and/or the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955 35 P.S. § 521.20(a). The decision whether to issue a warning or a citation is made on a case-by-case basis and determined by the unique circumstances of each encounter.

Persons who fail to comply with an order may be fined between $25 and $300 dollars.

Enforcement agencies include the Pennsylvania State Police, local law enforcement, personnel from the departments of Agriculture and State, and PA Liquor Control Board stores who interact with visitors.

Reporting Health & Safety Violations

You can report a workplace health and safety violation related to COVID-19 by contacting your local health department or law enforcement agency.

You can also file a public health complaint about a business by using the Department of Health COVID-19 Complaint Form. Public health complaint categories include:

  • Employees or customers not wearing masks.
  • Business does not have protocol for positive or probable cases.
  • Business does not screen employees for symptoms.
  • Business is not cleaning high-touch surfaces.
  • Business is not creating a safe environment for customers.
  • Business is not allowing employees to telework when appropriate.
  • Employees not providing or allowing cloth masks.
  • Equipment not sanitized.
  • Not allowed to stay home when sick or employees coming to work when sick.
  • Social distancing not being practiced.

For Individuals

Unemployment Compensation

If you are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation (UC) or Workers’ Compensation (WC) benefits.

In addition to regular state Unemployment Compensation benefits, which provide roughly half of an individual’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week, the federal CARES Act expanded UC benefits through several new programs:

Check out our guide to unemployment benefits to learn more.

Other Financial Help

Credit Cards

If you have seen a reduction in pay due to COVID-19 and are struggling to make your credit card or loan payments, contact your lender right away. Regulatory agencies have encouraged financial institutions to work with customers impacted by the coronavirus. For guidance, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or contact a credit counselor near you.

Mortgage or Rent

If you can’t cover your mortgage payment or rent, contact your lender or landlord immediately. Do not wait until you’re behind on payments.

Some lenders may work out an agreement with you to waive late fees, set up a repayment plan or offer loan forbearance.

Utilities

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman has put protections in place for low-income Pennsylvanians. Learn more about these protections.

If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your service provider for possible emergency assistance programs.

Home heating help is available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Learn more and apply for the program.

Food Assistance

Pennsylvanians out of work and without pay, or with significantly reduced hours as a result of COVID-19, are eligible to receive state and federally sourced foods from Pennsylvania’s food banks and pantries. Find a pantry near you, then give them a call to make arrangements.

There are many other food assistance resources available. Find a comprehensive list on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website.

Mental Health Resources

It’s normal to feel stress around COVID-19. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not an indication of weakness.

Here are just a few mental health resources available to Pennsylvanians:

  • Crisis Text Line: Text ‘PA’ to 741741 for help 24/7.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you or someone you care about is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the Lifeline at 800-273-8255. [Español: 888-628-9454.]
  • PA’s new support helpline: Our new support helpline, run by the Department of Human Services, is here to help. Call 855-284-2494 to speak with someone today.
  • Get Help Now for substance use disorder: Recovery is not canceled. Reach out for support from the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs by calling 1-800-662-4357, or use the online chat function.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Are you a veteran in crisis or concerned about one? Connect with caring, qualified responders, many of whom are veterans themselves, by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1, or chat online.

Use the Mental Health Resources guide to find more help and information available to Pennsylvanians

More Resources

For Businesses

Businesses play a critical role in protecting your workers, customers, suppliers, and the general public.

All businesses with in-person operations should follow building and business safety guidelines issued by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines may change over time, so be sure to check back for updates. All federal, state, and local laws and regulations still apply.

COVID-19 Guidance for all Businesses

All businesses are required to review and comply with the COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses. This guide includes the basics our businesses and workers need to safely get back to work. As you reopen, you will need to follow all federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Please print, sign, and post the COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses  sign (updated 6/26/20) near all public entrances and in worker common areas. Signs should be easy to spot. Two sizes are available for download — use whichever size that works best for your printer.

Legal-sized paper (8.5×14 inches and only uses one piece of paper)

Letter-sized paper (8.5×11 inches and uses two pieces of paper)

Restaurant Self-Certification

Self-certification is an optional program by which you can reassure your employees and customers that you are adhering to all appropriate guidance. Self-certification does NOT impose additional obligations or result in additional inspections; rather, business operators who self-certify have taken the additional step of confirming their dedication to protecting their employees and customers from COVID-19, and thus may increase their occupancy to 50 percent.

It’s free to join the program and enrollment is voluntary. Participating restaurants will receive:

  • A listing on the searchable public Open & Certified PA Business Directory
  • Permission to increase indoor dining from 25% to 50% occupancy
  • Free Open & Certified Pennsylvania signs for your physical location, website, and social media channels
  • Timely updates, reminders, and alerts for new business guidance and resources

The self-certification form is now available. To complete the form, you must:

  • Read the full requirements (also available in Spanish) for self-certification included in the form
  • Agree to comply with all requirements
  • Provide your maximum indoor occupancy based on the fire code
  • Confirm your information is correct

Owners should keep a copy of the self-certification confirmation they will receive by e-mail. For questions about the Open and Certified Pennsylvania program, read the Frequently Asked Questions or email covidselfcert@pa.gov.

Resources and Loans

To help navigate through the potential financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Pennsylvania businesses,  the state and federal government are offering loans to help offset the revenue lost.

Check the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development website for the most up-to-date information on resources and loans for businesses.

More Resources

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