Coronavirus Forever: Philadelphia Is Bringing Back Indoor Mask Mandate

A sign reminds customers to wear their masks at a bakery in Lake Oswego, Ore., on Friday, May 21, 2021. As the federal government and many states ease rules around mask-wearing and business occupancy, some blue states like Oregon and Washington are still holding on to some longtime coronavirus restrictions. …
AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is officially bringing back its indoor mask requirement less than two months after dropping it. The move makes it  one of the first big cities to bring back restrictions as Americans attempt to return to a state of pre-pandemic normalcy over two years after the start of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

The city, which has remained at the lowest tier of its four-tier system, announced on Monday it is moving from the “Level 1: All Clear” — which frees individuals from mask requirements and vaccine mandates — to “Level 2: Mask Precautions.” Under this level, masks will be required in indoor public spaces.

The city is attributing the decision to “rising case counts.” According to April 11 data, the city reported an average of 142 new cases per day, 44 hospitalizations, and case increases of more than 50 percent in the last ten days. In order to qualify for the lowest tier, which the city is moving out of, two of the three criteria must be met: Average cases per day must be less than 100, hospitalizations must be less than 50, or cases must have increased by more than 50 percent in the last ten days.

The rule goes into effect Monday, April 18. However, there is no vaccine requirement is in place at Level 2, but that could change if average new cases go beyond 225 and hospitalizations exceed 100:

“Philadelphia’s COVID-19 response levels allow us to be clear, transparent and predictable in our response to local COVID-19 conditions,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement.

“Given the recent rise in cases, we are moving to Level 2 in hopes of preventing higher case rates and stricter measures,” he added. “Our city remains open; we can still go about our daily lives and visit the people and places we love while masking in indoor public spaces. I’m optimistic that this step will help us control the case rate.”

“If we fail to act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections has been followed by a wave of hospitalizations, and then a wave of deaths, it will be too late for many of our residents,” city health commissioner Cheryl Bettigole claimed.

“This is our chance to get ahead of the pandemic, to put our masks on until we have more information about the severity of this new variant,” she added.


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