Philadelphia mask mandate: City drops mask requirements in most indoor settings
PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia officials dropped the city's mask mandate for indoor spaces Wednesday morning after moving the city to the All Clear COVID-19 tier.
FOX 29's Jeff Cole first broke the news on Twitter.
The announcement came ahead of the city's COVID-19 briefing, which will be the last one, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole.
The dropped mandate comes just two days after officials announced the mandate would stay for indoor public spaces and schools "for the time being."
The city's vaccine mandate for indoor spaces was dropped in February, but a new system using response tiers was introduced.
Health officials use four key metrics, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, test positivity rates and the rate of increase in cases, to determine the move from one response tier to the next.
The tiers are listed as:
- Extreme Caution: Proof of vaccination required for places that serve food or drink; masks required in indoor public places
- Caution: Proof of vaccination or negative test within 24 hours for places that serve food or drink; masks required in indoor public places
- Mask Precautions: No vaccine requirement for places that serve food or drink; masks required in indoor public places
- All Clear: No vaccine requirement for places that serve food or drink; No mask requirement (except in schools, healthcare institutions, congregate settings, and on public transportation)
The guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guided city officials with setting the timing for mandates, but the agency recently changed course, saying most Americans can safely take a break from wearing masks.
The removal of the mask mandate signals Philadelphia's move from Mask Precautions to All Clear.
The mask mandate will continue for certain settings including, schools, healthcare facilities and public transportation, according to the officials.
Officials say if data continues to move in the right direction, schools will be able to end mandatory mask mandates on March 9 with a 1-week mask requirement after spring break.
The mask mandate for Philadelphia buildings will end on March 7.
According to the city, businesses and other institutions can be more strict than the City and continue requiring proof of vaccines or mask-wearing.
Although we are All Clear, the Board of Health is urging everyone to remember the pandemic is not over.
If a new COVID-19 variant emerges and cases begin to rise, the city may move back to other tiers that require more mandates and restrictions.
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