The Pennsylvania Department of State is making it easier for retired healthcare professionals to join the fight against the coronavirus by suspending some licensing requirements, fees and renewals, the department announced Wednesday morning.

“These new regulation suspensions increase the number of available and qualified healthcare practitioners in Pennsylvania by allowing retired practitioners to re-enter their field more easily without paying reactivation fees.” The suspension applies to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other professionals who have been retired less than four or five years, depending on the profession.

Wednesday’s announcement is one of a growing list of orders scaling back licensing, deadlines and red tape in response to fears of overwhelmed hospitals and crowded convalescent centers due to the pandemic.

The move drew swift praise from nursing professionals.

“State Boards of Nursing are demonstrating incredible flexibility during this pandemic while continuing to ensure the safety of the public,” said Antonia Villarruel, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. “The flexibility in guidelines will ensure that we have well educated and skilled providers to address the needs of individuals, families, and communities at this time.”

Last week, the department scaled back licensing requirements by granting extensions to nurses with graduate licenses and automatically extending temporary permits by 90 days. Registered nurses who were “in renewal” with licenses set to expire at the end of April also received an automatic extension.

The government gave leeway to pharmacists intended to help “pharmacies practice social distancing for staff and allowing for the licensure of out-of-state pharmacies to ship goods into Pennsylvania.”

And the state has eased regulations regarding the delivery of telemedicine in more than 15 specialized fields of care to accommodate social distancing efforts.

The latest move to allow newly retired individuals to get back to providing healthcare more quickly appears to be in response to a surge in volunteerism from the retirees.

“Many retired and inactive health care professionals want to help bolster our healthcare system during this crisis,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said.

“This action will allow people with inactive or retired licenses in good standing to reactivate their licenses and immediately lend their assistance in this challenging time. We thank these retirees for their willingness to serve.”