PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The City of Philadelphia is lifting its indoor mask-wearing mandate after 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday morning, Philadelphia will end its last two major COVID-19 restrictions, the city's indoor mask mandate and its final call for restaurants at 11 p.m. A few selected restrictions will remain in place.
The city says that people who are not fully vaccinated are "still strongly recommended to wear masks indoors and outdoors when around others, but are not required to do so." The health department also says people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks in most settings.
The city has a list of exceptions to the end of the mask mandate, saying masks need to be worn indoors in settings "including but not limited to":
- Health care institutions including temporary community health care events such as vaccine clinics and blood drives
- Congregate facilities such as prisons, shelters, and adult day programs
- Public transportation including planes, trains, buses, taxis, and rideshare vehicles
- Indoor schools, camps and early childhood education
Philadelphia's courts also say the mask requirement will remain for their facilities and procedures.
"Settings that are higher risk, where we know there may be more people who are vulnerable," said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. "We want to make sure we have that extra layer of protection."
Dr. Bettigole said that the current case counts are the smallest since the pandemic began, but the effect of COVID-19 is still being felt.
“Lifting the requirement for vaccinated people to wear masks indoors doesn’t mean that we are totally past COVID-19," Dr. Bettigole said.
"Dozens of Philadelphians are still being diagnosed with COVID-19 every day, which means that more of us still need to get vaccinated.”