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Borough Council Lifts Most Mask Requirements For Vaccinated People

The State College Borough Council voted 5-2 Friday to amend the borough’s ordinance to follow federal guidelines that greatly loosen restrictions on mask-wearing and in-person gatherings.

Now, the borough will follow recently updated Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance that says fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks indoors and outdoors — even in large crowds. However, individual businesses can still require masks inside.

Regardless of vaccination status, masks are still required in a few areas, including in doctor’s offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and prisons. They’re also needed on airplanes, buses, and other public transportation.

The council also increased the limit on outdoor gatherings at residential properties from 25 to 100 people and indoor gatherings from 25 to 50. Outdoor gatherings on municipal properties increased from 50 to 100 people.

State College Board of Health President Tom Daubert spoke against the amendment and said it would be tough to know if those without masks are actually vaccinated.

“I know too many people that aren’t vaccinated that would not wear masks anyway, even though they’re supposed to,” Daubert said.

Uncertainty surrounding near-impossible enforcement persisted among the council all afternoon, ultimately leading to an initial 5-2 vote against the amendment. But perhaps due to pressure, the group quickly switched votes to achieve a 5-2 vote in favor of the changes.

During public comment, State College resident Karen Rhodes said she supported the amendment because it could help avoid discrimination toward those who got vaccinated but can’t wear masks.

“This whole thing of getting vaccinated but requiring the mask still is going to result in a lot of bullying toward those like me who are disabled with breathing conditions,” she said.

Those who violate the ordinance can still face $300 fines, plus any additional court costs. The borough said it’s filed 150 ordinance-related citations to date.

State College’s ordinance will now remain in effect with these new, relaxed guidelines until July 31 or when the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centre Region Council of Governments rescind their emergency declarations — whichever comes first.

Governor Tom Wolf still plans on lifting most statewide restrictions on businesses and gatherings by May 31. Pennsylvania’s masking mandate will be lifted once 70% of adults are fully vaccinated.

However, local municipalities and governments can continue enforcing stricter guidelines within their jurisdictions if they choose.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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