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The Mask Mandate Is Back in Philly

Health department officials announced that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people must wear masks indoors again — unless businesses require proof of vaccination

Pennsylvania Considers New Mask Mandates As Covid-19 Cases Rise Getty

On Wednesday, August 11, Philly health department officials announced that masks would once again be required indoors in businesses across the city, following a rise in COVID-19 cases connected to the highly contagious delta variant and a slowed vaccination rate. The news was first reported in advance of the announcement on Tuesday by the Inquirer.

The new mask mandate comes with one caveat: If businesses require guests and employees to provide proof that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, masks will become optional indoors for that business. Indoor dining is still permitted under the new restrictions, but guests at bars and restaurants will be required to wear masks at all times indoors except when eating or drinking if the business is not asking for proof of vaccination. These new restrictions come exactly two months after all COVID-19 restrictions were originally lifted, and the new mask mandate will be in effect as of midnight, August 11.

A growing number of restaurants in Philly are asking guests for proof of vaccination in order to dine there, with varying levels of strictness — some required guests show their cards, while others operated on the honor system. Now, unless a patron can provide proof they’ve been vaccinated, all employees and guests must wear masks indoors. Of the restaurants mandating proof of vaccination, many have been on the receiving end of vitriol on social media from people who claim that asking for proof of vaccination is a violation of personal freedoms.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said that anyone who has lost their vaccination card can now call a hotline at (215) 685-5488 or send an email to covid@phila.gov to retrieve their vaccination information. As of Wednesday, 63 percent of Philadelphians have been fully vaccinated but Mayor Jim Kenney pleaded with the remainder of the city’s residents to get the shot, in order to forestall the continued spread of the coronavirus. “Please, just get the vaccination,” he said. “This could all be avoided.”

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