PHILADELPHIA - The City of Philadelphia is issuing a mandatory order on masks and face coverings requiring residents to wear them in public places as a new spike in cases threatens to delay the city's reopening.
The mask order is effective immediately and requires residents to wear masks in all public indoor settings, and in outdoor settings if people are less than six feet from people from different households.
While officials say the order will not be enforced by the Philadelphia police they hope the requirement will result in more people wearing masks and mitigate further spread of the coronavirus.
“As we’ve said throughout this pandemic, taking simple steps like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining six feet of distance between yourself and others can save lives,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “This new Mandatory Mask Order is a signal to the public that we are serious about the need to follow critical public health guidance.”
There will be limited exceptions, including children under the age of 8.
The news comes as cases begin to spike across the country, as well as in the tri-state area. Recent spikes have even caused Delaware Governor John Carney to delay phase three of their reopening plan.
Health Department Director Dr. Thomas Farley indicated that targets the city needs to meet in order to move to their own green phase by their anticipated July 3 reopening date have not been met.
Health officials have reported an average of more than 100 new cases per day in the city for the last week, which is an increase from prior weeks.
Dr. Farley says increased testing does not explain the increased case count because the percentage of positive tests is also up.
He added that the city has seen an increase in the number of cases in patients between the ages of 16 to 19 that appear to be from them attending social events.
City officials expect the second wave currently impacted states across the country will eventually impact Philadelphia to some degree.
"Here in Philadelphia, we laid out targets for what we would need to meet in order for us to reopen in the Green Phase. Those targets, we may not meet by next Friday," Dr. Farely added. "We are not seeing a consistent decrease in cases over four weeks, which is one of our target. Or we may not be meeting daily case targets."
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