Why did the Secretary issue this Order?
The Secretary issued this Order to continue to protect all in the Commonwealth from the spread of COVID-19, mindful of the need to slow the increase in the number of cases as the Commonwealth reopens and in order to avoid the resurgence that is overwhelming the health care systems and public health systems in other states who have been less successful in reopening than the Commonwealth.
What type of mask complies with this Order?
The Order requires individuals to wear a "face covering." "Face covering" means a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face. A "face covering" can be made of a variety of synthetic or natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, or linen, and, for the purposes of the order, can include a plastic face shield that covers the nose and mouth. "Face coverings" may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or improvised from household items, including but not limited to, scarves, bandanas, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.
If I'm inside a public place and can maintain social distancing, do I need to wear a mask?
Yes, unless you fit one of the exceptions included in Section 3 of the Order.
Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition including those with respiratory issues that impede breathing, mental health condition or disability
Individuals for whom wearing a mask while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines
Individuals who would be able to remove a mask without assistance
Individuals who are under two years of age.
Individuals who are communicating or seeking to communicating to someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
Individuals are not required to show documentation that an exception applies.
Do I have to wear a mask both inside and outside?
The Secretary's Order requires individuals to wear a face covering, in both indoor public places and in the outdoors when they are not able to consistently maintain social distancing from individuals who are not members of their household, such as on a busy sidewalk, waiting in line to enter a place, or near others at any place people are congregating. Whether inside in a public place or outside, and when wearing a face covering or not, everyone should socially distance at least 6 feet apart from others who are not part of your household.
Do I need to wear a mask when around my family members?
A face covering is not necessary when inside the household with only individuals who are part of the same household as you, or when outdoors and able to consistently maintain social distancing from those who are not part of your household. If you and the individuals who live in your household are around others from outside of your household such as extended family members who do not live in the same household, a face covering is needed. If you and the members of your household are outdoors and 6 feet or further from other individuals such as extended family members, a face covering is not needed. Even if outdoors, exercise caution about situations that could result in closer contact when a face covering would be needed. You should also consider whether other individuals have underlying conditions that might make COVID-19 more serious to them than to others, and under those circumstances be sure to wear a face covering and social distance to protect them.
Does the Order apply to individuals within local government facilities, including court houses and government buildings?
Yes. The Order does apply to individuals inside and outside of local government facilities, court houses, and other government buildings.
Is it acceptable to remove face coverings when high temperatures and humidity may create unsafe conditions, or simply if the weather is very warm?
Individuals must wear face coverings unless wearing a face covering would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task. In general, though, face coverings must be worn, even on warm days, if they do not pose a risk to an individual's health or safety. Mere discomfort is not considered a risk to an individual's health or safety.
Face shields are an acceptable alternative to face masks when high temperatures and humidity create unsafe conditions.
have asthma or another medical condition. Do I have to wear a mask?
Individuals must wear a face covering unless the mask impedes their vision, they have a medical or mental health condition or disability that impedes their ability to wearing of a face covering, particularly one that creates respiratory problems for the individual, or if wearing a face covering would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task. A list of the exceptions can be found in Section 3 of the Order. If an individual cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, the individual should consider wearing a face shield.
Persons, including children, with other sensory sensitivities may have challenges wearing a cloth face covering. They should consult with their health care provider for advice about wearing cloth face coverings and may consider wearing a face shield.
An individual does not need to provide documentation that the individual fits within an exception to the Order
Do I need to wear a mask while walking my dog? Going for a run in the park?
If doing a solitary activity outside that is not likely to result in being within 6 feet of another person, you are not required to wear a face covering. Individuals should consider carrying a face covering in case they unexpectantly come in close contact with others.
Does the Order require individuals to wear masks when they are exercising indoors at a health club?
Yes, everyone must wear a face covering unless they fall under an exception listed in Section 3 of the Order.
Do I have to wear a mask if alone in my workplace or office?
Individuals engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting in-person with any member of the public, working in any space visited by members of the public, working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others, working in or walking through common areas, or in any room or enclosed area where other people, except for members of the person's own household, are present must wear a face covering when unable to physically distance. However, employees isolated in their personal office space, which is not shared with any other individual and at least 6 feet apart from another person do not need to wear a face covering. Additionally, a face covering is not required while eating or drinking. While eating or drinking, social distancing techniques and other public health best practices such as hand hygiene should be applied.
I see the people remove their masks while making public speeches. Isn't that a violation of the Order?
Individuals speaking for a broadcast or to an audience may remove their face coverings while speaking, so long as they are social distancing during the speech or broadcast. Those persons in attendance, including employees of the venue, and any person speaking must socially distance during, before and after the speech or broadcast.
Do I have to wear a mask at a restaurant, bar, or private club?
Yes, individuals who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service need to wear a mask face covering until such time as they are eating or drinking.
Do I have to wear a mask at the dentist? At a medical appointment related to my nose.
Individuals obtaining a service – medical or otherwise – involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service can temporarily remove their face covering to obtain the service.
What if I can't afford a mask?
Face coverings, including masks do not need to be purchased. They may be made with readily available items. See here for directions on how to make a homemade mask. There are types of "face coverings" other than a mask that may be worn to comply with the Order. Face coverings may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or improvised from household items, including but not limited to, scarves, bandanas, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.
Updated 8/12/20 - Sources (1)