Philadelphia lifted its mask mandate two months ago after 14 months of compulsory indoor masking. Amid rising COVID case numbers, the city is reimposing rules requiring indoor masking.
The new restrictions were announced on August 11 by Mayor Jim Kenney, who said that the city’s new measures would save lives and protect city residents. The same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reclassified Philadelphia as having “high community transmission.”
The new restrictions do not mandate capacity limitations for indoor facilities or social distancing. However, the new rules are similar to other new mandates around the country in creating a two-tiered system treating the unvaccinated differently from those who have received the jab.
The unvaccinated masking rules hit city employees in an unprecedented way. New workers hired after September 1 will have to be previously vaccinated. Existing city employees who have not been vaccinated will have to wear two masks at all times when indoors.
When asked if even more restrictive rules might be coming, the mayor snipped that they would not be needed if everyone “acts like a mature adult.” Stressing the different laws applicable to the vaccinated, he said, “this could all be avoided” if people would get the shots as he requested.
Private businesses not requiring proof of vaccination must require single masking indoors. “Non-seated” outdoor events of more than 1,000 people will also need a single mask.
Seated events would seem to include sporting events, although the rules require putting on a mask if a fan gets up to go to the restroom or buy concessions.
The double-masking requirement for unvaccinated city workers calls for a surgical mask as a first layer to be covered with a cloth mask. The mayor did not specify whether there was any scientific evidence that a different cloth mask improved surgical mask protection.
Like most rules imposing more significant restrictions on unvaccinated persons, the new rules in Philadelphia do not exclude persons previously infected with COVID or persons with medical reasons for not receiving the vaccination.