Philadelphia made national news in early April for being the first major American city to bring back its indoor mask mandate, as a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations met the city’s necessary threshold for masking up again. Within a week, the city has officially abandoned its indoor mask mandate, as well as the system it created to determine whether masks and proof of vaccination would be necessary.
“Based on the data showing that hospitalizations have not continued to rise, the City will no longer use the response levels introduced earlier this year,” a release from the city of Philadelphia said. Health commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole added, “Response levels worked as intended and helped act as an early warning system to level off this current rise in cases.” The response levels, which began at All Clear and worked their way up from there, were intended to automatically trigger decisions about masking and proof of vaccination based on hospitalizations and case counts. Now that these response levels are gone, the city will merely recommend that residents wear masks indoors, rather than require them.
The city did not rule out the possibility that requirements would come back if cases were on the rise again.
As has been the case during city’s entire back-and-forth between no masks and masks with the recent omicron wave of the coronavirus, businesses like restaurants, bars, and cafes can still make individual decisions on whether they want guests to wear masks or show proof of vaccination. So bring your mask and vaxx card anyway — at this point, you never know when you might need it.