Mar 2, 2022 - COVID

Philadelphia drops mask mandate

Illustration of a pattern of masks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Philadelphia dropped its indoor mask mandate, effective immediately, on Wednesday.

Driving the news: The city moved into the "All Clear" response level of its four-tier system as it ditched face mask requirements for indoor public places, like restaurants, businesses and institutions.

  • Exceptions to the move — for now — include schools, health care institutions and public transportation.
  • Philly dropped its vaccine mandate for indoor dining last month and rolled out a new four-tiered system for responding to the pandemic.

The big picture: Mandatory masking in schools will end on March 9 if current conditions hold. There will be also a one-week masking requirement in schools after spring break to avoid a surge.

  • City buildings will require masks until March 7. After that, masks will be optional for visitors and fully vaccinated staff. Unvaccinated city staff will still be required to double-mask.

Yes, but: The health department warned that the decision is subject to change if and when cases should begin to rise again.

  • "If a new COVID variant were to come to Philadelphia or cases started to rise again, we may need to move to the Mask Precautions Level or higher and start enforcing the public mandates again," health department spokesperson James Garrow wrote.

Between the lines: The city’s move to loosen COVID restrictions comes after the CDC no longer recommended indoor masking in the region.

  • The CDC’s shift was based on several factors, including low community spread, high levels of vaccination and population immunity, and reductions in hospitalizations and deaths.

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