Pennsylvania follows relaxed federal guidance on masks

The Associated Press
President Joe Biden holds up his mask last month as he speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during a prime-time address from the East Room of the White House.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania automatically adopted new, relaxed federal guidance on mask-wearing for people who are vaccinated, while the Philadelphia Phillies said Thursday it will increase seating capacity at home games.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on mask-wearing, saying fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear them in uncrowded situations indoors or outside at all, even at a crowded event.

The federal agency still advised following guidance at workplaces and businesses, and recommended vaccinated people wear masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals and prisons.

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For millions of unvaccinated residents, Pennsylvania's comprehensive masking requirement for indoors and outdoors remains in place, until 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated, the state Department of Health said.

Municipalities and school districts can also continue to impose their own restrictions, the department said, while it could take well into June to reach the 70% vaccination threshold.

The state Department of Health estimates that there are 10.8 million people in Pennsylvania age 18 and older. It reports that 4 million are fully vaccinated, while the Philadelphia Department of Health reports another 600,000 full vaccinated. That's under 50%.

The Philadelphia and state health departments report another approximately 2 million adults have received a first dose of a two-dose vaccine. They could be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks, and bring the total close to 70%, as health officials report that several hundred thousand people each day are getting shots.

The Phillies, meanwhile, will welcome up to 16,000 fans to the stands at Citizens Bank Park against the Boston Red Sox starting May 22. That's in line with the city relaxing social-distancing guidelines from 6 feet to 3 feet.

Seating capacity will increase to 100% for the rest of the season beginning June 12 for a two-game set against the New York Yankees.

The team said a limited number of seating pods will be available for fans who want a “socially-distanced environment.” Tailgating also will be permitted in parking lots surrounding the ballpark, it said.

Face coverings are still required when attending games, under city guidelines, the team said.