WEST CHESTER, PA — A spike in COVID-19 cases in the Borough of West Chester, as reported to the Chester County Health Department in the past 30 days, has prompted Mayor Dianne Herrin to declare a state of emergency in the borough Friday.
The declaration includes warnings that failure to wear a face mask, and gatherings of more than 10 people, could result in a $300 fine.
“I am declaring a state of emergency in the Borough of West Chester as of 6:00 pm today. A state of emergency expands the powers of the Mayor so I may institute temporary, protective regulations. The purpose is to improve our government’s ability to manage novel coronavirus transmission in our community.”
“The rate of viral infection is particularly high in the 18- to 22-year-old age group, and these infections are concentrated in the rental community,” Herrin said in a letter to the community.
The state of emergency institutes two measures: It limits social gatherings at private residences and it requires face coverings.
The declarations states: “All outdoor and indoor social gatherings at private residences must be limited to 10 or fewer people. When the number of members living in a household exceeds 10, no additional persons shall gather at the property, either indoors or outdoors.”
It warns: “All known violations will be cited by the West Chester Police Department at $300 per person, for each participant in such gatherings including the household member(s) hosting the gathering.”
“Household” is defined as those living in the same dwelling unit.
The face covering requirement reads: “All persons in the Borough of West Chester shall be required to wear a face covering when within 6 feet of another person and when the person(s) is/are:
Inside any building open to the public, such as but not limited to grocery stores, pharmacies, business locations, retail stores, service establishments, and medical and dental treatment facilities.
Inside all municipal and other governmental buildings.
On a transport or transit vehicle, including ride share and public transportation.
Waiting to enter any building open to the public, any municipal and other governmental building, or waiting to board any transport or transit vehicle, unless a distance of at least 6 feet is maintained from any person who is not that person’s family or household member.
Coming into contact with any person who is not that person’s family or household member, whether indoors or outdoors, including, but not limited to, contact during gatherings, curbside pickup, drive-through and food truck purchases, deliveries, and service calls.
Working in all jobs that entail coming into contact with any member of the public including, but not limited to, all work involving the preparation or packaging of food and/or beverages unless separated by a physical barrier between the employee and the public.”
The declaration also tells parents or guardians they are “responsible for ensuring that minor children wear face coverings, unless such children are exempt.”
Face covering exceptions include persons:
With a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing of a face covering, provided the person provides documentation from a licensed medical professional of such medical, mental health, or disability preventing the wearing of a face covering. In the event that the person provides said documentation immediately, or within 5 days, the citation shall be not be issued.
Whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering.
Who are hearing impaired, or who are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
For whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
Who are obtaining a service or treatment involving the nose or face or a medical procedure for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
Seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, provided the establishment complies with the most current requirements established by the PA Department of Health and the Governor of Pennsylvania.
Again, Herrin’s statement warns: “All known violations will be cited by the West Chester Police Department at $300 per person, for each person violating these face covering requirements.”
“Face covering,” the statement explains, means a clean cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes or vents, that covers both the mouth and nose, including surgical masks, respirators, face shields, handmade or homemade masks, and bandanas, neck gaiters, scarves or wraps made of tightly woven fabric such as denim or cotton.
“Coming into contact” means within 6 feet or closer.
This chart was included in the mayor’s statement. It shows COVID metrics in West Chester Borough:
This article originally appeared on the West Chester Patch