HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections Acting Secretary George Little announced on Monday, Jan. 24 that the department is suspecting all in-person visitation at 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.