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Philadelphia health officials announced Monday they are reinstating the indoor mask mandate in response to an increase in cases caused by the omicron BA.2 subvariant.
“Recently, we have seen increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in several European countries and some locations in the US, and now cases have started to increase here in Philadelphia, too,” said Dr. Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole at a news conference Monday afternoon. “We’re reintroducing the mask mandate in Philadelphia.”
Philadelphia appears to be the first major city to reintroduce an indoor mask mandate after local governments and states across the country lifted them earlier this year in response to falling cases.
The city has entered Stage 2 of its COVID-19 response system, meaning Philadelphia has met two out of three requirements of between 100 and 225 new cases per day, a 50 percent increase in cases over the past 10 days and hospitalizations between 50 and 100
TSA EXTENDS COVID MASK MANDATE FOR ANOTHER MONTH
If new cases hit between 225 and 500 per day, the city will reintroduce the requirement for residents to show a vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test before entering bars and restaurants.
“Our city remains open; we can still go about our daily lives and visit the people and places we love while masking in indoor public spaces,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted Monday.
The new mask requirement will come into force next Monday after “a one-week information phase for companies”.
The 7-day average for new COVID-19 cases has stood at around 26,000 nationwide since mid-March, after falling sharply in January and February from an all-time high of 806,739 on Jan. 15, according to CDC data.
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President Biden touted the end of mask mandates during his State of the Union address last month.
“Most Americans in most parts of the country can now go mask-free. And based on projections, a larger portion of the country will reach that point in the next few weeks,” Biden said on March 1. “Thanks to the progress we’ve made over the past year, COVID-19 no longer has to control our lives.”