Philadelphia will be dropping its vaccine mandate amid declining case numbers and unveiled a new tiered-response plan Wednesday.
“As of today, we no longer need to ask our city’s dining establishments to check vaccines,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said during a press briefing. “Philadelphia’s vaccine mandate for dining establishments has been hard on our restaurants and on our places of entertainment.”
Under the new response system, the city is in “Level 2: Mask Precautions.” This means that three of the following must be true: either the average amount of cases is below 225, hospitalizations are under 100, the positivity rate is less than 5% or cases have not risen by more than 50% over 10 days.
Bettigole said the city’s mask mandate will remain in effect to keep the unvaccinated safe. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “loosely woven cloth [masks] provide the least protection,” while “well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s” offer higher levels of protection. (RELATED: CNN Medical Analyst Says Mask Mandate Should End Because ‘Science Has Changed.’ But Has It?)
Philadelphia announced in December that beginning Jan. 3, 2022, individuals must be fully vaccinated in order to dine-in at restaurants and have to provide proof of vaccination. Individuals were allowed through Jan. 17 to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of visiting an establishment, but after that date, only full vaccination was sufficient.
The announcement comes as the nation’s capital said that beginning Tuesday, the vaccine mandate for businesses would be removed. The moves come as Democratic leaders across the U.S. begin to roll back restrictions such as mask and vaccine mandates.