What COVID restrictions are in place across the Delaware Valley?

City residents wait in a line extending around the block to receive free at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits in Philadelphia

City residents wait in a line extending around the block to receive free at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits in Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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With COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations rising due to the fast-moving omicron variant,​ the Delaware Valley is still seeing “high” levels of COVID-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some state and local health officials have opted to reinstate certain COVID-19 mitigation measures, including mask or vaccine mandates in schools or health care settings.

Here’s what you need to know about current restrictions, recommendations, and mandates across the Delaware Valley.

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Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has lifted most COVID-19 restrictions. Below is a breakdown of current mitigation efforts and recommendations.

The restrictions do not apply to Philadelphia, which has its own COVID-19 mitigation measures. Municipalities and school districts, if they so choose, may continue to implement stricter restrictions.

  • Businesses: Restaurants and businesses no longer have capacity limits, and people are no longer required by the state to wear masks indoors. Businesses maintain the option, however, to require that employees, customers, and guests wear face masks.
  • Physical distancing: Businesses are not required to follow specific distancing measures.
  • Face masks:
    • Face masks are no longer required indoors or outdoors, though the Wolf administration has recommended that residents follow CDC guidance on mask-wearing.
    • K-12 students and staff are no longer mandated by the state to wear face masks in school buildings, per a recent state Supreme Court ruling. Some school districts have since lifted masking requirements.
  • Vaccinations: Employees of Pennsylvania’s prisons and state health care and congregate care facilities must be vaccinated or take weekly tests for the virus.
  • Outdoor events: Occupancy limits have been dropped.
  • Indoor events: Occupancy limits have been dropped.
  • Schools: K-12 students and staff are no longer mandated by the state to wear face masks in school buildings, per a recent state Supreme Court ruling. Some school districts have since lifted masking requirements.

Pennsylvania will continue to follow CDC guidance for wearing a mask where required by law.

The CDC requires individuals to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transit. People should also continue to follow mask guidance at workplaces, businesses, long-term care facilities, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.

As of Thursday, Jan. 20, more than 17 million vaccine doses have been administered in Pennsylvania. Around 70.8% of all residents have received at least one vaccine dose.

Here’s how to sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia

The city — whose restrictions are independent of those set by the state — has re-implemented certain restrictions amid a rise in cases. Below is a breakdown of current mitigation efforts and recommendations:

  • Face masks:
    • Face masks are no longer required indoors or outdoors for fully vaccinated people.
    • Philadelphia health officials recommend, but do not require, “that everyone mask while indoors in places where you do not know that everyone is vaccinated,” citing a rise in COVID-19 cases and child hospitalizations.
    • Settings such as public transportation and congregate facilities still have mask mandates.
    • Mask-wearing is optional within the Philadelphia County Court System for all employees and visitors who are fully vaccinated.
    • Mask-wearing is required for School District of Philadelphia students and staff.
  • Vaccinations:
    • All new city employees must be vaccinated. Current employees must be vaccinated or work in enclosed spaces with double masks.
    • School District of Philadelphia employees must be fully vaccinated or take two COVID-19 tests a week.
    • Philadelphia health care workers and students and staff of city colleges must be vaccinated.
    • Any Philadelphia establishment that offers food and drinks indoors must require customers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. That includes:
      • Restaurants with indoor dining rooms
      • Bars that serve indoors
      • Coffee shops with indoor seats or tables
      • Cafes or restaurants within larger spaces, like museums or hotels.
      • Food courts inside malls or other venues.
      • Sports venues that serve food or drink for indoor consumption — this includes the Wells Fargo Center but does not include Lincoln Financial Field
      • Movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other entertainment venues that serve food or drink for onsite consumption
      • Conventions (if food is being served)
      • Catering halls
      • Casinos where food and drink is allowed on the floor
  • Restaurants:
    • Any Philadelphia establishment that offers food and drinks indoors must require customers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
    • Capacity limits and physical distancing requirements have been lifted.
    • 11 p.m. last call for dining order has been lifted.
  •  Businesses:
    • Capacity limits and physical distancing requirements have been lifted.
    • Masks will be required indoors at all Philadelphia businesses and institutions that do not require vaccination for employees and patrons.
    • Businesses that require vaccination for all employees and patrons are exempted from having a mask requirement.
    • Capacity limits and physical distancing requirements have been lifted.
  • Non-seated outdoor events:
    • Masks will be required at all non-seated outdoor events with more than 1,000 attendees.
  • SEPTA:
    • Capacity restrictions have been lifted on public transit, though riders must continue to wear masks, in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • Schools:
    • Face masks are mandated for students, staff, and teachers, with 3-foot physical distancing when possible and weekly staff COVID testing.

As of Thursday, Jan. 20, more than 1.3 million Philadelphians have received at least one vaccine dose, with at least 1 million residents fully vaccinated.

New Jersey

New Jersey has re-implemented certain restrictions amid a rise in cases. Below is a breakdown of current mitigation efforts and recommendations:

  • Businesses:
    • Percentage capacity limits for businesses have been lifted.
    • The mandate that businesses offer telework arrangements and reduce on-site staff as much as possible has been lifted.
  • Physical distancing: Physical distancing measures are no longer required, though businesses may choose to implement them.
  • Face masks:
    • Face masks are no longer required for vaccinated people in outdoor public spaces or indoor spaces, though businesses may still require face-coverings for employees and customers.
    • Gov. Phil Murphy says the statewide school mask mandate for students, educators, staff, and visitors, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future” (the state’s public health emergency is in effect through at least Feb. 12).
    • New Jersey health officials recommend, but do not require, that residents mask while indoors in places where they do not know that everyone is vaccinated.
    • Unvaccinated people are asked, but not required, to continue wearing face masks and to maintain physical distance, especially indoors.
    • Masks are still required in public-facing state offices, such as Motor Vehicle Commission agencies.
  • Vaccinations:
    • All school personnel — from preschool to high school — must be fully vaccinated or get tested weekly. This includes both full- and part-time staff at all public, private, and parochial schools, as well as substitute teachers and contract workers.
    • New Jersey workers in certain high-risk fields, including health care and congregate settings, need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
    • All New Jersey child care workers and facility staff must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or face weekly testing.
  • Indoor events: All indoor gathering limits have been lifted.
  • Outdoor events: All capacity limits for outdoor events have been lifted.
  • Schools:
    • Gov. Phil Murphy says the statewide school mask mandate for students, educators, staff, and visitors, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future” (the state’s public health emergency is in effect through at least Feb. 12).
    • All school personnel — from preschool to high school — must be fully vaccinated or get tested weekly. This includes both full- and part-time staff at all public, private, and parochial schools, as well as substitute teachers and contract workers.
  • Travel: Out-of-state travelers and residents returning to the Garden State are no longer required to quarantine upon arrival.

As of Thursday, Jan. 20, more than 13 million vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey, with more than 6.3 million New Jerseyans fully vaccinated, or at least 74% of eligible residents.

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Here’s how to sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey.

Delaware

Delaware has re-implemented certain restrictions. Below is a breakdown of current mitigation efforts and recommendations:

  • Businesses: Capacity limits have been lifted for restaurants, stores, churches, and other businesses.
  • Face masks:
    • Face masks must be worn in almost all indoor public settings.
      • Covered under the indoor mask mandate are grocery and convenience stores, gyms, hair salons, malls, and casinos. Face coverings can be removed in restaurants and bars only while eating or drinking.
      • Exempt from the indoor mask mandate are houses of worship.
    • Mask-wearing is still required on public transit, planes, health care facilities, and congregate settings like prisons and homeless shelters.
    • Students, teachers, and staff are required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Vaccinations:
  • Physical distancing: Physical distancing requirements have been lifted.
  • Long-term care facilities: Visitation will still depend on each facility’s status for COVID-19 cases and residents’ vaccination status.
  • Schools:
    • Students, teachers, and staff are required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
    • ​​Teachers and school staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.

As of Thursday, Jan. 20, about 91.3% of Delawareans 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 1.6 million doses administered in total.

Here’s how to sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Delaware.

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