Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine issued an order Tuesday that outlined new rules for travelers and strengthened the state’s existing mask mandate to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The latest mitigation efforts include a travel test, requiring travelers to be tested within 72 hours before entering Pennsylvania. Masking orders now call for wearing a face covering indoors at all times away from home, and outdoors if you can’t keep 6 feet from people outside your household.
There was no mention of enforcement of these new requirements, and Levine acknowledged that officials will continue to rely on voluntary compliance and an honor system among residents.
Here’s what we know regarding any potential enforcement:
The secretary said no one will stop travelers to ask about testing as they get off an airplane.
THE FACTS: Lehigh Valley International Airport posted the secretary’s order on its website Wednesday. Section 2 states the order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 20, and will remain in effect until further notice. It states, “Individuals traveling into and returning to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from any other State or Commonwealth or an international location, must produce evidence of a negative SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) test from a specimen collected within 72 hours prior to entering the Commonwealth, or quarantine for 14 days upon entering.”
Colin Riccobon, spokesman for the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, referenced Levine’s statement that travelers would not be stopped in the airport. He said an official statement on the travel advisory is expected later Wednesday.
The secretary said the travel-test order also applies to Pennsylvanians who drive out of the state and return, excluding commutes for work. But don’t expect state or local police to target out-of-state drivers.
THE FACTS: Allentown police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr. said,” Secretary Levine acknowledged that officials are relying on voluntary compliance. Allentown police will not be stopping out-of-state vehicles to inquire about testing.”
Bethlehem police will be taking the same approach.
“Bethlehem police will not be doing anything different than we have been since the start of the pandemic,” said Capt. Keane Knappenberger. “There will not be checkpoints for out-of-state travelers, or door-to-door canvassing to check for gatherings. If we are called to a location, we will be educating the public about social distancing and mask wearing as we have been doing since the beginning.”
State Police enforcement
State police have played a role in enforcement of COVID-19 mitigation requirements, but it’s been limited.
THE FACTS: State Police Liquor Control Enforcement officers continue to visit licensed liquor establishments to ensure businesses are abiding by mitigation requirements that include social distancing, masking and other health and safety requirements of the liquor code. They continue to write warnings and notices of violation, and more information is available on the enforcement page of the state police COVID-19 portal.
While travel is not recommended in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, state police patrols are not stopping vehicles coming from out of state.
“This [concern] came about in the