PHILADELPHIA - Pandemic-weary restaurant owners in Philadelphia are wondering how the city's reintroduction of the indoor mask mandate will impact business.
Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole on Monday announced that Philadelphia will bring back its indoor mask mandate on Apr. 18 amid an uptick new infections.
The health department's decision came a week after coronavirus cases increased by more than 50% in a ten-day span and the city logged nearly 150 cases a day.
"This looks like we may be at the start of a new COVID wave like Europe just saw," Bettigole said.
Philadelphia restaurant owners who have already been put through the ringer by two years of COVID-19 restrictions are once again having their patience tested.
"It’s been very, very emotionally and physically draining, telling people constantly to put their mask on, and we look like the bad guys," Owner of O'Neals Pub Spoonie O'Neal said. "We're being the mask police, which I don't think is fair, but it is what it is."
Philadelphia will allow businesses to go mask-free if they require everyone on-site to be fully vaccinated. Most customers will at the very least begrudgingly comply with the reimposed mandate.
"I’m kind of torn, I think it’s everybody's decision," Brian Miller said. "Me personally, I’m tired of the mask but whatever makes anybody happy."
Some restaurants, like Flannel in East Passyunk Crossing, would rather continue to require proof of vaccination from customers and staff. Flannel owner Marc Grika believes the new mask mandate will "scare people away" just as businesses were starting to see larger crowds.
"Every restaurant on the entire street was packed, so it influences the way people think and feel," Grika said. "Now that they are putting the masks back, it’s going to influence them again, and they’re going to stay home again."