Fact check: Pennsylvania’s mask mandate not over until June 28

The claim: Pennsylvania’s mask mandate is ‘dissolved immediately’

An Italian restaurant in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, says the state’s mask mandate is over. There’s only one problem with that: The mandate doesn’t end for another two weeks.

In a June 10 Facebook Live video with more than 36,000 views, Christine Mason said that, if you live in Pennsylvania, “you can take your mask off.”

“You know how Governor Wolf, the last mandate that is in place is the mask mandate and that is supposed to be lifted June 28? You guys ready for this?” Mason, co-owner of Taste of Sicily, said in the video. “It’s gone. It’s gone, it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Taste of Sicily has pushed back on public health restrictions. Last May, the restaurant defied a statewide order by reopening for in-person dining, resulting in a temporary suspension of its food license and a $1,000 fine. By July, the fines had reached $10,000.

In the video, as evidence for her claim about Pennsylvania’s mask mandate, Mason cited her attorney and said “every declaration that Governor Wolf had in place is now dissolved.” In a Facebook message to USA TODAY, Taste of Sicily pointed to one of its recent posts, which includes three screenshots of a purported Pennsylvania House resolution terminating Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 2020 disaster emergency declaration.

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“You can fact-check it. The mask mandate is over,” Taste of Sicily said.

Here are the facts: Pennsylvania’s Republican-dominated Legislature has voted to end Wolf’s disaster emergency declaration. However, the state Health Department told USA TODAY the decision doesn’t affect the mask mandate, which lasts until June 28.

Mask mandate through late June

Unvaccinated Pennsylvanians who are eager for the state’s mask mandate to end will have to wait a couple of more weeks.

“Our mask mandate remains in place until June 28 or when at least 70% of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated,” Maggi Barton, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said in an email.

The mandate, which Barton said has been in place in some form since last spring, requires unvaccinated Pennsylvanians to wear face coverings indoors regardless of physical distance, as well as outdoors in crowded settings. As of June 11, only about 44% of the state was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning June 28 will most likely be the end of the mask mandate, according to local media outlets.

People, some without masks, walk along Market Street in Philadelphia, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Photo: Matt Rourke, AP)

So what about Wolf’s disaster emergency declaration?

On June 10, Pennsylvania lawmakers voted to end the declaration, which allowed the government to suspend certain regulations and mobilize the National Guard to respond to the coronavirus. However, the Legislature also voted to extend Wolf’s regulatory waivers until at least Sept. 30, meaning the vote could have little immediate effect on the state’s coronavirus response.

Wolf cannot veto the resolution. In late May, Pennsylvanians passed a constitutional amendment that allows a simple majority of lawmakers to revoke a disaster emergency declaration without the governor’s approval.

Our rating: False

The claim that Pennsylvania’s mask mandate is “dissolved immediately” is FALSE, based on our research. The mandate will last until June 28 or until 70% of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated. State lawmakers voted to end Wolf’s disaster emergency declaration, but that vote doesn’t affect the statewide mask mandate.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Taste of Sicily, June 10, Facebook Live
  • Taste of Sicily, June 11, Facebook
  • Taste of Sicily, June 11, Facebook message to USA TODAY
  • Maggi Barton, June 11, Email exchange with USA TODAY
  • Lebanon Daily News, May 20, 2020, Taste of Sicily restaurant in Palmyra reopens to in-person dining, defying state’s order
  • Lebanon Daily News, June 10, 2020, Taste of Sicily fined by state after reopening indoor dining area
  • LebTown, July 2, 2020, Fourth fine for Taste of Sicily brings total up to $10k, owners seek Trump visit
  • The Patriot-News, June 10, Pa. Legislature ends Gov. Wolf’s pandemic disaster emergency declaration
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health, June 9, Updated Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health, May 27, Department Of Health: Adult Vaccinations On Track; Mask Order To Be Lifted By June 28
  • WHTM-TV, June 9, Will Pennsylvania’s mask mandate be lifted before June 28?
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health, accessed June 11, ​COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard
  • Pennsylvania Office of the Governor, March 6, 2020, PROCLAMATION OF DISASTER EMERGENCY
  • Associated Press, June 10, Lawmakers vote to end emergency declaration, extend waivers
  • Pennsylvania Office of the Governor, May 20, Gov. Wolf Signs Renewal of COVID-19 Disaster Declaration to Aid in Recovery
  • Spotlight PA, June 10, Legislature votes to immediately end Pa.’s coronavirus disaster declaration while keeping waivers in place

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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