Philadelphia health officials announced Monday they will reimpose the indoor mask mandate to address an increase in cases caused by the omicron BA.2 variant. “Recently, we’ve been seeing COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases rise in several European countries as well as some places in the US. Now, we are starting to see cases rise here in Philadelphia,” Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, Philadelphia Health Commissioner, said at Monday’s press briefing. “We are reintroducing the mask mandate to Philadelphia.”
Philadelphia is the first major city that has reinstituted an indoor mask requirement after states and local governments across the country removed them earlier in the year to address the decline in cases.
The city has reached tier 2 in its COVID-19 response system. This means that Philadelphia has met two of the three requirements of 100-225 new patients per day, an increase of 50% over the previous 10 days and hospitalizations between 50-100.
If there are more than 500 new cases per day, the city will require residents to show a vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test before they can enter bars and restaurants.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted Monday, “Our city remains open. We can still go about daily life and visit the places and people we love while hiding in indoor public spaces.”
After a week-long education period for businesses, the new mask mandate will be in effect next Monday.
According to CDC data, the 7-day average number of new COVID-19 patients has dropped sharply from the January/February record of 806,739 and a high of 806,739 on January 15.
During his State of the Union Address last month, President Biden spoke out in favor of ending mask mandates.
“Most Americans can now wear masks in most parts of the country,” Biden said. Biden stated March 1 that projections show that more Americans will be able to remove their masks in the coming weeks. COVID-19 does not need to control our lives anymore, thanks to the improvements we made in the past year.