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September 15, 2023

Are New Challenges to COVID-19 Mask Mandates Moot Moving Forward?

On September 8, 2023, the Third Circuit ruled in Parker v. Governor of Pennsylvania that, despite new developments, the plaintiffs’ challenge to Pennsylvania’s former mask mandate remains moot because there is still no showing that a statewide mask mandate is expected to recur. The plaintiffs challenged a statewide mask mandate that the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) lifted in June 2021, rendering the plaintiffs’ suitmoot. Then, in September 2021, the DOH attempted to impose a mask mandate for school children , which the Plaintiffs argued could make a broader statewide mask mandate reasonably likely to recur. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, however, struck that mandate down. Because the Governor had not redeclared an emergency related to COVID-19,  the DOH lacked the legal authority to issue a mask mandate. The Third Circuit found that “this development in state law makes a resurrection of a statewide mask mandate even less likely,” so the Parker plaintiffs’ claims against the DOH’s expired mask mandate remained moot.

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