LANCASTER, Pa. — Pennsylvania has amended its masking order to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The changed order gives vaccinated people more room to visit with others.
As more and more people are vaccinated and guidelines continue to change, some businesses and restaurants say there will be more tough conversations.
"It has been difficult from the beginning," said Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. "We have one store, a grocery store chain in the western part of the state, which has been sued over six dozen times over the issue, just for trying to do the right thing and saying, 'wear a mask.'"
Barr believes more people who have been vaccinated could refuse to wear a mask in businesses like grocery stores and restaurants.
"It really is reminiscent of almost what happened in the beginning of this when the governor here first announced he was requiring masks. We had a lot of store workers who were physically and verbally assaulted for trying to enforce the mask mandate, and I would say I am concerned about visiting that," added Barr.
Annie Baileys Owner Josh Funk is preparing his staff for those talks. Funk says it's challenging to balance personal liberty with public health concerns.
"It's going to be this weird kind of in between of vaccinated and unvaccinated people," said Funk. "Our number one concern, whether you want to wear a mask or don't want to wear a mask: We're concerned about keeping our employees and guests safe."
Until there is a universal understanding masks are not needed, Annie Baileys staff members will continue to ask customers to wear theirs.
If customers do not agree, the PA Chamber of Business and Industry reminds businesses that they can fall back on the law. Currently, PA's amended masking order only allows for fully vaccinated people to visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors and unvaccinated people from a single household who are at a low risk of severe COVID-19.
"You're still told to wear a mask when out in public," explained Barr.
One exception to the rule includes if a face covering would either cause a medical condition or exacerbate an existing one, such as a respiratory issue, mental health condition, or disability. There are other exceptions which you can read more about here.
For now, the CDC says fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with 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
- Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
- Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations