On Wednesday, February 16, City of Philadelphia health officials announced that businesses that serve food no longer need to ask guests to provide proof of vaccination to diner indoors. In a virtual press conference hosted by Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole, four new COVID-19 response levels were announced — Extreme Caution, Caution, Mask Precautions, and All Clear — based on numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Philly is now under the “Mask Precautions” level, meaning proof of vaccination isn’t required to dine indoors but masks will still be required in public indoor spaces.
This change comes roughly six weeks after the city instituted proof of vaccination mandates in the beginning of 2022, as a result of the surge of omicron-related coronavirus cases. The four response levels are meant to provide benchmarks for when mandates will either be reintroduced or softened — further details on each level is available on the City of Philadelphia’s website.
“This is what we need to do to be safe,” Kenney said in the conference. When questioned about when city officials anticipate we’ll reach the “All Clear” stage, Kenney said, “We’re going to get there when we get there.” Bettigole admitted that that could be soon, but was hesitant to make any promises.