Frustrated about vaccination-resistant locals and fearful of potentially increased infections, Philadelphia officials have announced new mask requirements.
Effective Thursday at midnight, masks must be worn inside by customers and employees unless the business allows for proof of vaccination. In addition to the indoor requirements, masks will be required at outdoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
But the most eye-catching change is the mayor’s requirements for government employees. Starting on September 1, they must be fully vaccinated or wear two masks while at work.
During a virtual press conference, Mayor Jim Kenney said, “We know we need to take stronger steps to protect our residents.”
“This amazes me that this is the most simple thing to do to keep yourself safe and your family safe and your community safe and people still refuse to do it,” he said.
The mandate “is intended to cajole the estimated 30 percent of the city’s population that is still yet to have a COVID vaccine into getting jabbed,” per The Daily Mail. “Similar to most big cities in the U.S., Philadelphia has seen its number of cases double three times in a month.”
The city reports 159,434 COVID-19 cases and 3,783 COVID-19 related deaths. There have been 2,328,243 negative COVID-19 tests. The city is considered a high transmission risk area by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“Things don’t look good right now, especially in light of what we’re seeing in other states,” acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said. “Getting vaccinated isn’t just a personal decision. It’s a decision that affects all of us.”
The Philadelphia Department of Health also announced its goal of a 90% vaccination rate among college students and healthcare workers. Now, both groups have until October 15 to be fully vaccinated.
“People who do not show proof of vaccination will be required to undergo weekly testing, wear two masks while in public and social distance,” according to Fox29.
Outdoor dining remains unrestricted at this time.