COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high. It's more important than ever to wear a mask, keep your distance, and download the COVID Alert PA app. More on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

Last updated: 10:45 a.m., November 23, 2020

COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high. 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

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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 where feasible
  • Businesses with in-person operations must follow updated business and building safety requirements
  • Masks 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
  • Masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home

Local Guidelines

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

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.

list of what masks do and don't do

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

Masks & 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.

For Individuals


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

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.

The following changes to unemployment have been made to help Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The waiting week is suspended. Previously, claimants were not eligible for benefits during their first week of unemployment (the “waiting week”). This has been suspended; eligible claimants may receive benefits for the first week that they are unemployed.
  • Work search and work registration requirements are temporarily waived. Claimants are not required to prove they have applied or searched for a new job to maintain their benefits. Claimants are also not required to register with
  • People who exhaust their regular Unemployment Compensation and federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation can now qualify for 13 additional weeks of payments through the state’s Unemployment Compensation Extended Benefits program.

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:

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.


On March 6, 2020, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman signed an emergency order prohibiting terminations by utilities that are under the PUC’s jurisdiction, including:

  • Electric
  • Natural Gas
  • Water
  • Wastewater
  • Telecommunication
  • Steam

This memorandum is in place for as long as Governor Tom Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster is in effect.

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

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

The CDC suggests these tips to help you cope:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news — including on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body:
    • Take deep breaths, stretch, and/or meditate
    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
    • Exercise regularly
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Make time to unwind with activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about how you’re feeling.

Get Help

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.
  • Prevent Suicide PA: Learn the warning signs of suicide and how you can help, plus get other resources.
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: Experiencing emotional distress due to COVID-19? Call 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • 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.

Find a comprehensive list of COVID-19 mental health information and resources through Mental Health America.

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)


State and local authorities are enforcing business and building safety orders for COVID-19. This includes:

  • Local officials and law enforcement
  • PA State Police
  • PA Department of Health
  • PA Department of Agriculture
  • PA Department of Labor and Industry
  • PA Liquor Control Board

These groups are authorized to enforce business closure orders and safety orders to the full extent of the law.

Reporting Health & Safety Violations

There are several options for reporting possible workplace health and safety violations related to COVID-19.

  1. Contact your local health department or a law enforcement agency.
  2. Use the PA Department of Health’s webform to submit a complaint.
  3. If in violation of OSHA guidance, file a complaint at

COVID-19 Guidance for Specific Industries

The following industry-specific COVID-19 guidance is currently available:

Determining Event Occupancy

Starting on Friday, Oct. 9 amended orders will allow for venue occupancy limits to play a bigger role in determining the number of people permitted both inside and outside of events or gatherings. An event or gathering is defined as a temporary grouping of individuals for defined purposes that takes place over a limited timeframe, such as hours or days, including fairs, festivals, concerts, or shows and groupings that occur within larger, more permanent businesses, such as shows or performances within amusement parks, individual showings of movies, business meetings or conferences, or each party or reception within a multi-room venue.

Conversely, groups of people who share a space within a building in the ordinary course of operations, such as in an office building, classroom, production floor or similar regularly occurring operation of a business or organization, are not events or gatherings.

All businesses are required to conduct their operations remotely through individual teleworking of their employees in the jurisdiction or jurisdictions in which they do business unless that is not possible. In those instances, employees may conduct in-person business operations, provided that the businesses fully comply with the business safety order, the worker safety order, and the masking order.

The orders amend two sections of the July 15 mitigation orders and include a maximum occupancy calculator for both indoor and outdoor events. Based on a venue’s established occupancy limit as defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code, venues apply the appropriate percent of occupancy to determine how many attendees are permitted to attend an event or gathering.

See frequently asked questions about this amendment.

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

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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