What COVID restrictions are in place across the Delaware Valley?

The 1500-1600 block of Sansom Street in Center City is closed for outdoor dining. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The 1500-1600 block of Sansom Street in Center City is closed for outdoor dining. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the coronavirus and vaccines?

Despite falling COVID-19 case counts, the entirety of Delaware Valley is still seeing reliably “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.

The Federal Drug Administration on Aug. 23 gave full approval for Pfizer’s two-shot COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 16 and up. Pfizer’s vaccine, approved for emergency use in ages 12 to 15, remains the only vaccine approved for teens at all. Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines remain under an emergency use authorization, for adults only.

The CDC on Sept. 23 approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans.

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

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 required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
  • Vaccinations: Employees of Pennsylvania’s prisons and state health care and congregate care facilities must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 7, 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 required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

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 Tuesday, Sept. 28, more than 12.7 million vaccine doses have been administered in Pennsylvania. Around 68.5% of adult residents are fully vaccinated.

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:
  • Restaurants:
    • In restaurants that require proof of vaccination for everyone (staff and patrons), masks will not need to be worn.
    • If vaccination is not required for everyone that enters a restaurant, masks are to be worn by all patrons and staff the entire time while not seated and eating or drinking.
    • Capacity limits and physical distancing requirements have been lifted.
    • 11 p.m. last call for dining order has been lifted.
    • Proof of vaccination is not required, though some restaurants have opted to implement such measures.
  •  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 Tuesday, Sept. 28, more than 1.1 million Philadelphians have received at least one vaccine dose, with at least 930,729 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.
  • Vaccinations:
  • Indoor events: All indoor gathering limits have been lifted.
  • Outdoor events: All capacity limits for outdoor events have been lifted.
  • Schools:
    • Mask-wearing is required for all students, educators, staff, and visitors.
    • All school personnel — from preschool to high school — must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, 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 Tuesday, Sept. 28, more than 11.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey, with more than 5.8 million New Jerseyans fully vaccinated.

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

Delaware

All three counties in Delaware, Kent, Sussex, and New Castle, are experiencing high transmission of COVID-19, according to the CDC.

Delaware has re-implemented certain restrictions amid a rise in cases. 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:
    • Vaccinated people are no longer required to wear face masks indoors in most settings, unless mandated by a particular business or workplace.
    • Unvaccinated people are asked, but not mandated, to continue wearing face masks indoors.
    • 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:
    • All state employees and all health care employees in Delaware must get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Sept. 30, or be tested regularly for the virus.
    • ​​Teachers and school staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1 or submit to weekly testing.
  • 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 by Nov. 1 or submit to weekly testing.

As of Monday, Sept. 27, about 78.2% of Delawareans 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 1.1 million doses administered in total.

DE Wins, a statewide incentive program, hopes to encourage more residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Gift cards, a full-ride college scholarship, and even low-digit license plate tags are among items being offered as prizes.

A grant program is similarly helping Delaware businesses offer vaccinated residents incentives like free food or discounts.

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

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