Stay at Home

See below for key information and frequently asked questions.



What to do


Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine have issued Stay at Home orders requiring people to stay home except for essential needs.


Read Governor Wolf’s original order here or view on Scribd. Read Governor Wolf’s amended order here or view on Scribd. Read Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s original order here or view on Scribd. Read Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s amended order here or view on Scribd. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit:


Vulnerable populations must stay home. Everyone else is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job.


It is OK to go outside for walks or bike rides if you are not in a group.


Stay at least 6 feet apart when leaving your home for essential activities.


This order is in effect until June 4. It may be extended depending on recommendations from public health officials.



Why are we doing this?


This is a critical intervention to reduce harm from the spread of the coronavirus in our community. This is a mandatory order.


We observed quickly mounting cases and serious illnesses across the region.


Now is the time to do everything we can to prevent the situation from getting much worse in a matter of days or weeks. Every hour counts. We need and appreciate the cooperation of everyone who lives and works in Lancaster to act immediately.


While this news may feel alarming, it is a necessary step to prevent a worsening situation. The patterns of the virus around the world, and in our own state, tell us that moving right now to maximize social distancing and restrict people gathering is the best way to fight the virus and save lives.


If everyone works together, we should be able to adjust to the new rules over the next few weeks.


We know that there will be a lot of questions and concerns at the beginning of this new regimen. This is a major change being taken to protect public health. Please be patient and kind to one another. Together, we will get through this, and our community’s health will be protected.



How long will we stay home?


This goes into effect at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 27, 2020. It is currently set to last through June 4.


We want to be sure the Order is in place for only as long as necessary, and the Health Officer will be closely monitoring the situation every day in order to determine what adjustments make sense.



What can I do? What’s open?


Essential City and County government services will be open. These include:


• Police stations
• Fire stations
• Hospitals, clinics and healthcare operations
• Jails
• Garbage/sanitation
• Transportation
• Utilities (water, power and gas)


Use online services whenever possible.


These essential services will remain open:


• Gas stations
• Pharmacies
• Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out/delivery restaurants
• Hardware stores/plumbers
• Banks
• Community benefit organizations on a case-by-case basis
• Laundromats/laundry services


What’s closed?


• Dine-in restaurants
• Bars and nightclubs
• Entertainment venues
• Gyms and fitness studios



What can’t I do?


You cannot engage in group activities in person with others.


You cannot have dinner parties. You cannot invite friends over to your home to hang out.


You cannot go to bars or nightclubs.


You cannot go to a nail salon or get your hair cut by a stylist or barber.


You cannot go shopping for non-essential goods.


You cannot take unnecessary trips on public transport or in your car or motorbike.



Where does this apply?


This is in effect across Lancaster County, as well as Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties.



Is this mandatory or is it just guidance?


It is mandatory. This order is a legal order issued under the authority of Pennsylvania law. You are required to comply, and it is a misdemeanor crime not to follow the order (although the intent is not for anyone to get into trouble).


It is critical for everyone to follow the Order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves, their loved ones, friends, neighbors and the whole community.


All persons, businesses, and other entities are required to comply if they do not fall within the exemptions that are specified in the Order.



Social distancing requirements


Avoid groups.


Stay at least 6 feet away from others.


Reduce the time you are around others outside the home, even when at least 6 feet away.


When you are outside, you can be closer than 6 ft with people you live with.


The best way to reduce their risk of getting sick, as with seasonal colds or the flu, still applies to prevent COVID-19:


• Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Cover your cough or sneeze.
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Avoid touching your face.
• Keep 6 feet of distance between you and others in a line. When that isn’t possible for short periods, keep the duration short. Be sure when you are in line that you don’t sneeze or cough onto people. If needed, cough or sneeze into your shirt or into an elbow with clothing on.







Street sweeping, metered parking and residential permit parking enforcement has been suspended until further notice. As resident health and safety is our top priority, motorists should still be mindful of blocking driveways, intersections, fire hydrants, etc.


Public transportation


Use public transportation for essential travel only. Public transit will continue to operate on a limited basis. When using public transport, you should maintain at least 6 feet, 2 to 3 steps away, including if you are on the bus or on trains.


Rideshare services


Rideshare services are permitted for essential travel only. Take social distancing precautions: cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, use hand sanitizer, and wash your hands before and after rides, etc.


Rental cars


Rental car facilities can stay open if they are used for essential travel and business only. Rental car agencies must thoroughly clean cars between users. Use standard protocols for shared surfaces, including washing hands and using sanitizer before, during, and after use and also not touching their face.



Visiting friends and family


For your safety as well as the safety of others, we need to help each other fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.


Care for elderly parents or friends or those who have disabilities. Be sure that you protect them and you by following social distancing guidelines:


• Keep at least 6 feet of distance when possible.
• Cough or sneeze into a tissue.
• Wash hands before and after or use hand sanitizer.


If you are in a vulnerable population, contact friends, family, or others you know who can provide support. They are permitted to pick up any of your needs.





Shopping and deliveries


Getting food and medicine


You can go to the store to buy food for yourself, for those in your home, and for anyone else that needs help. This also includes medical supplies at a pharmacy and essential home maintenance supplies at a hardware store.


Businesses selling those items can remain open. Employees of those businesses can keep working to ensure those businesses are operating.


These include:


• Grocery stores
• Corner stores and convenience stores, including liquor stores that sell food,
• Farmers’ markets,
• Food banks
• Farm and produce stands
• Supermarkets
• Similar food retail establishments
• Big box stores that sell groceries and essentials


We want people to have access to food wherever possible. These businesses are encouraged to stay open since they provide food and pet supplies to the public.


You can also travel to pick up free food for children from schools throughout Lancaster.


Help retailers maintain at least 6 feet minimum distance between patrons, including by providing ample space while shopping and waiting in line.


Minimize unnecessary trips.


Stockpiling food, necessities, or medicines


Buy normal quantities of these items. This will ensure that there is enough for everyone. You will continue to be able to purchase these items whenever you need them, as stores selling necessary items like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores will remain open.


Online stores and delivery


Mail and other delivery services to your home can continue to function, as can food delivery services. You can place more orders from online stores. Businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences are essential businesses that may continue to operate.


Other shopping


You can shop for anything related to health care, office supplies, and hardware supplies.


Other businesses


Other essential businesses include:


• Hardware stores
• Laundromats and laundry services
• Banks
• Funeral homes
• Community benefit organizations on a case-by-case basis
• Newspapers, television, radio and other media services
• Veterinary hospitals and clinics


Every time you make a trip, respect 6 feet of social distancing.


Order delivery whenever possible.





You can walk your dog. You can go to the vet or pet hospital if your pet is sick.


Remember to distance yourself at least 6 feet from other pets and owners.



Plumbing and other household services


Plumbers, electricians, and exterminators may keep working and providing their services to the public.


You can also visit a hardware store to buy supplies for a DIY solution.


Every time you make a trip, respect 6 feet of social distancing.


Order delivery whenever possible.





Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital unless you are having an actual emergency.


Routine, elective or non-urgent health needs.


Non-essential medical care like eye exams, teeth cleaning, and elective procedures must be cancelled or rescheduled. If possible, health care visits should be done remotely.


Contact your health care provider to see what services they are providing.


If you are feeling sick, please first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center.


Prescriptions and pharmacy trips


Drug stores and other medical supply stores are allowed to operate. When possible, have the drug store deliver your prescription medicine to your home.


Getting to my doctor or hospital


If possible, walk or drive yourself to healthcare. If someone else in your home isn’t sick and can drop you off, that is another good option. Try to avoid exposing others to any germs you have, especially if you are seriously ill.


If you have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like a surgical mask or N-95 mask, wear that to prevent exposing others. If you don’t have that, you could use a temporary method such as wrapping a clean scarf around your mouth and nose to try to reduce droplets when you cough and sneeze. Although this is not an approved method, it is something you can do to avoid exposing others.


Any routine appointments or elective procedures should be postponed.


Anything that can be done remotely — by phone or online — should be.


If it’s essential, your provider should screen you by phone for coronavirus symptoms before you leave home. If you go, use social distancing and personal protective equipment during the visit.


If you need a prescription, have it delivered to your home if possible.


Visiting hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities or residential care


Most visitors are not allowed in health care settings.


There are limited exceptions, such as if you are going to the hospital with a minor who is under 18 years old or someone who is developmentally disabled and needs assistance.


For most other situations, other existing Orders of the health officer addressing this emergency prohibit non-necessary visitation to these kinds of facilities. If you need to know more, please contact the facility you want to visit by phone before you leave.


This is difficult, but it is necessary to protect hospital staff and other patients.



Schools and childcare


All schools are already closed statewide by order of the Governor.


Schools may provide distance learning to their students.


Employees of schools may go to work for the purpose of providing distance learning to their students.


Schools can also continue to offer students free and reduced price lunches, which many schools are doing. As of Monday, March 23, SDoL will be distributing on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Students will be able to pick up three days’ worth on Monday and two days’ worth on Friday. The building locations are JP McCaskey, Hamilton, Hand, Reynolds, and Carter & McRae. Students/parents are instructed to go to the building closest to their house.



Childcare facilities


Childcare facilities can operate to support essential workers.


Childcare operators should tell parents they work with that childcare should be limited to those permitted to work.


Childcare facilities must honor social distancing rules to minimize risk. This includes limiting group sizes, having separate rooms, and preventing children from different groups interacting to the extent possible.


For example, to the extent possible, children should be cared for in groups of 12 or fewer, groups of children should not mix with each other, and providers should not circulate between groups.


What to do with kids at home


You cannot take them to the playground or arrange play dates. Children are not able to maintain social distance, and even adults are prohibited from socializing with friends in this manner.


It is essential that we stop the spread of the virus by not having in-person social interactions.


Entertain your children with games, reading, puzzles, and TV/videos at home.  Engage them in education using online tools.


Take them to trails and open parks.





Unless your work is an essential function, you cannot go to work. You may have the virus and not know it. You might get it and risk infecting those you live with.


Many businesses are not permitted to operate under this order.


Essential businesses are allowed to operate.


Government employees


Government employees can continue to go to work if they are designated as essential employees by their employer.


Other government entities are responsible for determining which of its workers are essential workers.




If nonprofits provide essential services as described in the order, they can and should continue providing those services. This includes those food pantries, housing for homeless residents, and other critical services.


Essential infrastructure organizations


You can continue to operate essential infrastructure organizations, including:


• water, sewer, gas, electrical
• roads and highways
• public transportation
• Internet
• telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services)


Healthcare operations


Healthcare Operations are an essential business. This includes:


• hospitals, clinics, dentists, other healthcare facilities
• healthcare suppliers
• home healthcare services providers
• any related and/or ancillary healthcare services


This includes vet care and all healthcare services provided to animals.


It does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.


Work from home


You can keep working from home as long as your employer permits it.


Places of worship


Stay home.


For your safety and the safety of your fellow worshippers, we need to help each other fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home. Places of worship can offer remote access to services, such as by emails, video streaming, or teleconference.



Staying active


Fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities must be closed.


You can engage in certain activities outdoors. You should not play sports indoors or play team sports.


Sports that are permitted (as long as you keep at least 6 feet from anyone else and don’t share equipment):


• yoga on your own (no sharing blocks or mats)
• running alone or with others with distance
• riding your bike (alone or with distance)
• walking (alone or with distance)
• stretching
• swimming in the ocean or in your own pool/hot tub
• shooting baskets by yourself, or hitting a tennis ball against a backboard


Not permitted:


• any team sports where there is any contact or where a ball or other equipment is touched by multiple people (soccer, baseball, basketball, Frisbee, etc.)
• swimming in a communal pool


Go outside


Spending time outside improves mood and wellbeing, and is particularly beneficial to children. Go for walks, go to the park, and engage in other similar activities.


Maintain social distance of 6 feet or more when on walks and in parks to avoid spread of the virus.





You can travel in and out of only to perform essential activities, operate essential businesses, or to maintain essential governmental functions.


Otherwise, do not travel. Travel puts you and others in the community at risk.


Returning to Lancaster


People currently on vacation can return home. Maintain social distancing on your way home. Then stay in your home for the duration of this order.


If you prefer to shelter in place at your current location, you are encouraged to follow these recommendations while outside Lancaster to protect yourself and others.


Leaving Lancaster


Do not travel. The Order requires that you shelter in your place of residence.


If you leave Lancaster for vacation or any other non-essential purpose, you may not be permitted to return to your residence.


Traveling runs the risk of spreading the virus to other areas and exposing new populations.


If you live outside of Lancaster but need to come here, you are allowed to travel to and from an essential business, like a medical appointment.


Returning to a home outside Lancaster


If you are currently visiting Lancaster, do your best to avoid spreading the risk of the virus.


If you have a car and can return home via travel, do so if you follow social distancing of at least 6 feet.


If you have a flight or other travel, check first to see if your carrier is still operating and what protocols they require.


If you need to stay longer, coordinate with your accommodations as best you can.


Shelter in place when you arrive at your destination to avoid infecting anyone else in your home community.



Operating a business


Essential businesses


Essential Businesses may stay open and their employees may leave home to go to work. Examples of Essential Businesses include:


• Healthcare organizations, such as hospitals, medical and mental health clinics, doctor offices, pharmacies, health care supply stores, and other health care facilities.
• Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other store groceries.
• Food cultivation
• Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities.
• Banks and related financial institutions.
• Garbage and sanitation services and collection.
• Hardware stores, and plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety and sanitation.
• Schools, for distance learning and providing meals.
• Laundromats and laundry service providers.
• Restaurants and other prepared food facilities, but only for delivery or carry out.
• Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
• Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
• Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
• Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
• Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
• Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
• Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;
• Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as permitted, subject to certain conditions in the childcare section


Warehouses and distribution centers


Businesses that supply and ship goods to essential businesses may stay open.





Most commercial construction projects are non-essential and must stop.


Essential infrastructure projects can continue. They include:


• Public works construction
• Construction of housing (in particular affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness)
• Airport operations
• Water, sewer, gas, and electrical
• Oil refining
• Roads and highways
• Public transportation
• Solid waste collection and removal
• Internet and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services)





This is a legally enforceable order issued under Pennsylvania law. It is a crime to violate this Order, and you may be punished by a fine or imprisonment for doing so.