Harrisburg, Pa. – August 28, 2020 — Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery/Bucks) has introduced a bill memo for co-sponsorship to upgrade the assault of an employee enforcing public health guidance, such as wearing a mask or practicing social distancing, to felony aggravated assault.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten our communities, our best defenses continue to be social distancing, maintaining good hand hygiene and wearing masks. Unfortunately, we have seen too many cases of violent assaults against the hard-working folks tasked with trying to enforce public health guidelines.

“Our essential workers have been on the front lines of this virus from day one. As businesses and workers continue to fight for their survival, they need our collective cooperation and support in complying with Pennsylvania’s mask mandate. Amid all of the struggles they are facing, fear of assault should not be one of them,” said Senator Collett. “Assaulting employees for simply enforcing health and safety rules is unacceptable, and those inflicting these attacks must be discouraged and held to account.”

There have been multiple incidents in Southeastern Pennsylvania alone. In May, a Perkasie convenience store clerk was repeatedly punched by a patron who refused to wear a mask. In July, a Bethlehem store clerk was shot at when he asked a customer to comply with their mask policy. And earlier this month, at Sesame Place, a children’s theme park in Bucks County, a 17-year-old employee suffered injuries requiring surgery for asking patrons to follow mask requirements. This pandemic has disrupted the normal practices of our lives, but this is no reason for anyone to become violent; it’s crucial that the legislature discourage this type of retaliation.