Mask Backlash forces Philadelphia to drop its mandate

The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania says residents no longer have to wear face coverings indoors amid falling COVID-19 numbers as well as resistance and confusion over the requirements for masking.

The city’s board of health voted to rescind the mandate on Thursday. The vote is an abrupt reversal of the mandate, which took effect days earlier as public health officials sounded the alarm over rising infection rates. Philadelphia was the only major city with a mask mandate, putting it at odds with a pandemic-weary public and an unexpected shift in federal regulations.

“Due to declining hospitalizations and leveling of case counts, the City will strongly recommend masks in indoor public spaces as opposed to a mask mandate,” said Kevin Lessard, spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney. Newsweek in an email. “Given the latest data, the Board of Health voted tonight to rescind the warrant.”

Lessard said details would be provided Friday morning.

The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, rescinded its mask mandate amid growing pressure and confusion over masking requirements. Pictured is a sign in a window advertising the sale of COVID-19 test kits in downtown Philadelphia on April 14, 2022.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The city announced a new indoor mask mandate on April 11 that would go into effect Monday. The mandate was adopted after Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the city’s health commissioner, told a board meeting that the city could be on track for another wave of COVID-19. similar to the one that recently swept across Europe.

While hospitalizations for COVID-19 remained low at 46, Bettigole said the number of cases had increased by 50% in the past 10 days, triggering the mask mandate in hopes of getting ahead of a potential surge.

However, on Saturday, a group of businesses and individuals filed a lawsuit in state court, arguing that the city lacked legal authority for the warrant. The lawsuit filed by attorney Thomas W. King III argued that the warrant contradicted recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and “imposed a renegade standard not found anywhere else in the world.”

The king said Newsweek in an email that he had filed a motion for an emergency injunction on Wednesday. He welcomed the city’s abandonment of the mandate.

“We are very pleased that Philadelphia overturned its mask mandate regulations tonight in the face of our trial,” he said. “We are proud of the small businesses and individuals we represent who have stood up for the rule of law. As this case shows, no one is above the law.”

Philadelphia’s mask mandate also went into effect the same day a Florida federal judge overturned a federal requirement that face coverings be worn on Amtrak planes and trains.

The sudden reversal of the requirement was greeted with enthusiasm by many travelers, as the White House offered confusing messages about masking, which has become a culture war battleground.

The CDC has recommended people wear masks on planes. However, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday it was a personal choice to wear a mask, leaving it up to travelers to continue to follow CDC guidelines. On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced it would appeal the judge’s decision.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button