PA limits interstate traveling

What this means in Northeast PA

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PENNSYLVANIA — Pennsylvania is introducing new "targeted and strategic actions" to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 over the holiday season, according to PA Secretary of Health Rachel Levine.

Starting Friday, November 20, out-of-state travelers must get a negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours prior to entering Pennsylvania or else quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Similarly, Pennsylvanians who leave the state must obtain a negative COVID-19 test before returning or quarantine for two weeks once they come back home.

Enforcement

According to an FAQ page on the department's website, this order is "enforceable as a disease control measure under the Disease Prevention and Control Law....  Persons who fail to comply with the order may be fined between $25 and $300 dollars." However, the Health Department has not announced any enforcement measures to accompany the order. And if history is any indication, the state and local police departments' roles in enforcing the measure will be minimal.

"The administration continues to encourage compliance and expects that, since all people are affected by this virus, everyone will do their utmost to comply," the department says on its website.

What this means locally

Secretary Levine said that the purpose of this order is to discourage people from traveling to see their friends and families during the holidays. Specific exemptions to the order include:

  • individuals traveling to and from PA for work;
  • individuals traveling to and from PA for medical reasons (including providing comfort and support to a patient);
  • military personnel traveling to PA by order or directive of a state or federal military authority; and
  • individuals in transit through PA to another destination, provided that the time spent in the commonwealth is only the amount of time necessary to complete the transit, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make necessary travel connections.

There are no specific exemptions for residents in counties that share close borders with other states, like Wayne and Pike counties for example. In an email, Health Department press secretary Nate Wardle suggested that the rules vary depending on where in the state somebody lives.

"I am sure that in certain parts of the state, the order would have different implications than others. The goal, of course, is to get people to not travel," Wardle said. "In areas where your closest grocery store, pharmacy, etc. is in another state, I think there we just need to use common sense."

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