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Harrisburg, Pa. - Mitigation orders--except masking--will be lifted in Pennsylvania on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31 at 12:01 a.m. , according to an announcement from the Wolf administration in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force.

The current order requiring Pennsylvanians to wear masks will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Face coverings are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home. In accordance with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians are not required to wear a mask during certain activities.   

“We continue to make significant progress in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and as more Pennsylvania adults get vaccinated and guidance from the CDC evolves, we can continue to move forward with our reopening efforts,” ​Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said.

“I encourage Pennsylvanians to take the critical steps needed to put this pandemic behind us by getting vaccinated, follow through with both doses if you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and continue to take steps like masking, frequent hand washing and sanitizing and social distancing,” Beam continued. 

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Requirements such as testing and reporting ​new cases will remain in place for hospitals and long-term care facilities. Maintaining requirements for hospitals and long-term care facilities wi​ll allow Pennsylvania to continue to closely monitor COVID-19 spread while lifting other restrictions. 

The Department of Health recommends that Pennsylvanians refer to CDC guidance and recommendations regarding ongoing COVID-19 safety measures and procedures. 

These updates will not prevent municipalities and school districts from ​continuing and implementing stricter mitigation efforts, the Wolf administration said. 

“With millions of Pennsylvanians getting vaccinated, it’s time to plan the transition back to normal,” said Sen. Art Haywood. Hospitalizations and deaths are down. This action today is a key step forward.”  

“While the restrictions that were put in place at the outset of the pandemic have been a major source of frustration for many Pennsylvanians and businesses, it is the collaborative work of this bipartisan Task Force that is allowing us to finally roll back the restrictions and get back to normal life,” said Sen. Ryan Aument.  

“I’m thrilled after more than a year that we are able to lift these restrictions so that we can move to more normal life,” said Rep. Tim O’Neal. “This will help grow our economy and assist our small businesses that have sacrificed so much due to COVID-19. Thank you to Pennsylvanians who have chosen to be vaccinated. Your efforts have helped us arrive at today.” 

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) today, saying, “Over the last 14 months, Pennsylvanians have had to not only endure the health impacts and threats of a global pandemic, but have also struggled through government mitigation orders that picked winners and losers and unfairly targeted certain industries over others.

Benninghof called the announcement "undoubtedly welcomed news for a Commonwealth that has suffered for far too long under unilateral and often confusing mitigation orders that have done untold damage to our children’s education, our economy and Pennsylvania’s future," but lamented the action may be too late.

Rep. Fred Keller echoed the sentiment. “For over a year, Pennsylvanians have suffered under prolonged government mandates that restricted where they could go, who they could see, and how they could worship," Keller said. "The governor’s shutdown orders have crushed thousands of small businesses and destroyed livelihoods in communities across our state."

Keller acknowledged the action was a "step in the right direction," he said it should have come much sooner. 

The governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place.  

All Pennsylvanians ages 16 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine. The provider map is available on the Department of Health’s website. Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.  

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.