HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections Acting Secretary George Little announced on Monday, Jan. 24 that the department will be suspending all in persons in all state correction facilities.

The suspension is to take effect on Jan 27 and last through Feb. 28. The reason for the closure, according to a press release, is to allow the facilities to more effectively allocate staff due to the surge of COVID-19 cases across the state.

“Staffing levels have been significantly impacted throughout the winter months by the same uptick in COVID-19 cases that our communities are experiencing,” Acting Secretary Little said. “Even when symptoms are mild, quarantine requirements for COVID-positive staff and close contacts of those who have tested positive have led to an increased reliance on voluntary and mandated overtime that is not sustainable.”

The availability of no-cost video visits will be increased, and the department will provide cable television to inmates who are currently incarcerated at no additional cost.

“We recognize the stress a suspension of in-person visitation may place on incarcerated individuals and their loved ones, and we will work to mitigate those issues,” Acting Secretary Little said. “This is a temporary measure to ensure critical positions in our facilities remain staffed.”

Those with an in-person visit scheduled for Jan. 27 or later will receive a cancelation notice by email. When on-site visitation resumes, visitors 12 and older may be asked to provide proof of vaccination before entering the facility.