Philadelphia First Major City to Reinstate Indoor Mask Mandate

Member Group : Center Square

(The Center Square) – Philadelphia is the first major city in America to reinstate its COVID-19 mask mandate, marking a shift from a loosening of restrictions to an “abundance of caution” approach.

“Philadelphia’s COVID-19 response levels allow us to be clear, transparent and predictable in our response to local conditions,” Mayor Jim Kinney said. “Given the rise in cases, we’re moving to Level 2 on April 18 to prevent higher case rates.”

Though the city has reached the threshold for the mandate, authorities said they wouldn’t enforce it for another week “to provide a one-week education period for businesses.”

While the city was slow to lift restrictions, it’s quick to reinstate them. Its approach has also been criticized for lacking predictability.

“When it comes to ‘Covid is over’ the city is very inconsistent,” said Danial Pearson, a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Outdoor dining has to come down, but masks are making a comeback. Concerts are back on, but Council meets remotely.”

Increasingly, the city has bifurcated into one part that has kept masking and proof-of-vaccination requirements, and another part that disregarded the mask mandate before it was officially rescinded and didn’t bother with checking vaccination cards.

The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association opposed the city’s mandate announcement.

“While the rest of the Commonwealth has moved forward in navigating life with COVID, Philadelphia has stepped back by imposing another mandate and expecting it to be enforced by businesses,” Senior Director of Operations Ben Fileccia said.

Mask mandates may not have as strong an effect on mitigating COVID-19 as health department officials hope, either. As one study found, “We do not find evidence that mandating mask-wearing reduces transmission,” medRxiv lead author Gavin Leech noted. “Our results suggest that mask-wearing is strongly affected by factors other than mandates.”

Staff Reporter

Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.