Philadelphia to end mask mandate, days after reinstating it

Philadelphia health officials say they’re ending the city’s indoor mask mandate, abruptly reversing course just days after residents had to start wearing masks again amid a sharp increase in infections

The mandate went into effect Monday. Philadelphia had ended its earlier indoor mask mandate March 2.

“The City will move to strongly recommending masks in indoor public spaces as opposed to a mask mandate,” the health department said in a statement.

The city did not provide more details on when the mandate would be lifted.

The health department had reported 82 patients in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Monday, up nearly 80% from a week earlier, with confirmed cases up 58% to 224 per day.

When the city announced April 11 that it was reinstating the mandate, the health commissioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, had said it was necessary to forestall a potential new wave driven by an omicron subvariant.

The restaurant industry pushed back against the city’s reimposed mask mandate, saying workers would bear the brunt of customer anger over the new rules.

Several businesses and residents filed suit in state court in Pennsylvania seeking to overturn the renewed mandate.