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Masks Are Required Throughout the State

By: Brian Carter, Esq. on in

The Pennsylvania General Assembly does not have the unilateral right to terminate Gov. Wolf’s emergency declarations issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision on Wednesday.

In early June, Wolf extended his emergency declaration on the COVID-19 pandemic for an additional 90 days. A few days later, following the language of the Emergency Management Services Code, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a concurrent resolution with bipartisan support to terminate the governor’s emergency declarations.

Wolf challenged the General Assembly’s position that it had the ability to immediately and unilaterally end his emergency declarations. The governor argued that the Pennsylvania Constitution requires that the resolution be presented to him for his approval or veto.

The dispute was resolved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court holding that the concurrent resolution procedure relied upon by the General Assembly requires presenting the resolution to the governor for approval or the governor’s veto. Because the General Assembly failed to do this, the concurrent resolution has no legal effect. As a result, the governor’s emergency declarations continue to be in force.

For Realtors®, this means that the regulations and procedures issued by the governor relating to real estate activity remain in effect and should be complied with. This includes following the suggested best practices and continued use of the COVID forms. For any counties currently in, or that are returned to, the red or yellow reopening phases, this also includes the May 19, 2020, guidance specific to the real estate industry.

Additionally, an immediate expansion of the requirement to wear a face covering was announced on July 1. The Pennsylvania Secretary of Health expanded until further notice her order for wearing face coverings to include when people are:

  • Outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of 6 feet from individuals who are not members of their household
  • In any indoor location where the public is generally permitted
  • While waiting for, riding on, driving or operating public transportation, ride-sharing, taxis or private car service
  • When receiving healthcare services
  • Engaging in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting in-person with any member of the public or in any room or enclosed area where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or residence, are present when unable to physically distance.

Exceptions to wearing a face covering include due to a person’s medical condition, it creates an unsafe condition while working and someone who cannot remove the mask without assistance. No documentation is required to establish that a person meets any exception.

As this applies to Realtors®, face coverings should be worn whenever conducting real estate-related activities outside of your own residence. This includes in-person meetings with clients, showing properties, conducting open houses and attending closings.

CDC Eviction Moratorium Extended Until July 31

No substantive changes to the eviction moratorium were made with this latest extension. However, the CDC also announced that this latest extension “is currently intended to be a final” extension and the “CDC does not plan to extend the order further.”

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Eviction Proceeding Timelines Modified

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made emergency rule changes to some of the timelines relating to residential eviction proceedings before magisterial district judges. These modified rules went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. After seeking public comment and additional feedback on the modified rules, the Supreme Court recently announced it is modifying the timelines back to their original periods effective Jan. 1, 2022.

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General Assembly Approves Resolution to End Emergency Declaration

Along with this measure, the legislature also passed House Bill 854 on June 9, with new language extending all of the regulatory waivers that had been issued under the emergency order. Those waivers, including one that allow livestreamed education courses to be counted under the rules applicable to in-person courses, are now extended to Sept. 30. HB854 was approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives and now moves to the governor’s desk for his signature.

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Comments (2)

Comments

  • Joseph R MacConnell   July 3, 2020 at 9:26 am

    very informative

    Reply to Joseph R MacConnell
  • Susan Ackerman   July 3, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    I received an email from Senator Mastriano’s office saying this: “Yesterday, the Secretary of Health mandated

    wearing masks when we leave our homes – remember, it is not a law.” What is the truth here, is it enforceable law or not, I am very confused as I think most people are with these mixed messages

    Reply to Susan Ackerman

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