April 12, 2022
Citing an increase in COVID-19 cases because of the Omicron subvariant, the city of Philadelphia reinstated its indoor face mask mandate on Monday.
The city was averaging 142 new COVID cases per day on Monday, compared to 84 new cases on April 1, the city government said in a news release. Hospitalizations have remained steady, with about 50 people per day hospitalized with COVID.
“If we fail to act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections has been followed by a wave of hospitalizations, and then a wave of deaths, it will be too late for many of our residents,” said Cheryl Bettigole, MD, the city health commissioner, according to The Associated Press. “This is our chance to get ahead of the pandemic, to put our masks on until we have more information about the severity of this new variant.”
Philadelphia becomes the first big city to restore a mask mandate, the Associated Press said. Philadelphia dropped its mask mandate March 2 as most big cities relaxed restrictions because cases were dropping. While case counts have not reached the numbers of several months ago, they’re still rising sharply.
The city will require masks in all public indoor spaces, including schools, businesses, restaurants, offices, and government buildings, according to the city news release. Businesses and institutions can drop the mask requirement if everybody on the premises is fully vaccinated and vaccine status is checked upon entry. Enforcement will begin April 18.
The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association complained that the reimposed rule will hurt restaurant workers.
“This announcement is a major blow to thousands of small businesses and other operators in the city who were hoping this spring would be the start of recovery,” Ben Fileccia, senior director of operations at the association, said on Twitter. “While the rest of the Commonwealth has moved forward navigating life with COVID, Philadelphia has stepped back by imposing another mandate and expecting it to be enforced by businesses and their employees.”In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams said Monday at a news conference that he would listen to his team of medical doctors for advice on whether to bring back any COVID restrictions, the Associated Press said.