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There Goes Philly’s Indoor Mask Mandate

Philly health officials announced on Wednesday, March 2 that masks will no longer be required indoors, though some restaurants and businesses may decide to keep restrictions anyway

Market merchants come to the market’s produce shops to buy ingredients for the day. Gab Bonghi

On Wednesday, March 2, Philadelphia health officials announced in a news release that Philadelphia had reached the “All Clear” stage in the city’s newly established COVID response categories, meaning Philadelphians will no longer be required to wear masks indoors. This decision comes two weeks after officials ended the proof of vaccination mandate for indoor dining, based on the new COVID-19 response guidelines, which are dictated by the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the city.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer in February, many restaurants and businesses are still opting to keep either their proof of vaccination or masking restrictions in place, as a measure to keep staff and guests safe while the coronavirus is still circulating. The city’s decision to declare that Philly had reached the All Clear stage is based on a COVID-19 update for Tuesday, March 1: As of the beginning of March, there were an average of 87 new cases per day, 156 hospitalizations, and a 1.7 percent positivity rate. These metrics meet the city’s requirements for no masks and no proof of vaccinations for indoor dining.

There are a handful of caveats to the loosening of the mask mandate: Masks must still be worn in schools until March 9, and until further notice masks are required in healthcare institutions and on public transportation. City health officials cautioned, however, that if cases rise again, or if a new variant were to emerge, proof of vaccination or masks would be back on the table.