For the first time in almost nine months, Philadelphia has relaxed its indoor mask mandate. The city is in the “All Clear COVID Response Level,” the Health Department announced Wednesday.
The move was based on a set of metrics rolled out in February. It isn’t permanent, but it’ll last as long as there are still low daily COVID case counts, hospitalizations, and positivity rate.
“All Clear” doesn’t mean you can ditch your masks entirely in all indoor public spaces. Some settings are delaying the change until next week — that’s when it’s expected to extend to schools, for example — while others like public transit are subject to federal requirements.
Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole also recommended continuing to wear a mask if you’re in a high-risk environment (like a large crowd indoors) or at a higher risk of contracting severe COVID (like if you’re immunocompromised).
Where exactly are you still supposed to mask up? Here’s the status of masking requirements in Philadelphia.
Privately-owned retail businesses
It’s case-by-case. Individual businesses in Philly can still choose to enact mandatory masking if they want, even though it’s no longer a city requirement. They’re also free to implement vaccine card requirements as they please.
Wells Fargo Center is dropping their mask requirement, effective as of tonight’s Sixers game.
Masks are required for everyone in Philadelphia municipal buildings until March 7. After that, they’re optional for all visitors and vaccinated employees. Unvaccinated employees will still need to double-mask when they’re indoors and around people.
Schools and universities
As of right now, masks are still mandatory in Philly public schools. Ending the requirement is tentatively planned for March 9 — “if [the data] continues to move in the right direction,” according to Health Department spokesperson James Garrow. There will also be a week-long requirement following spring recess (which runs April 11 through 14 for the Philadelphia School District) to mitigate any pre-break surge in cases.
Masks are also still required at colleges and universities.
Public transit and airports
Masking when using public transportation — both on vehicles like buses and subways and while at stations — is still required because of a nationwide security directive by the Transportation Security Administration. This also applies throughout PHL Airport, and on planes.
The TSA’s order is set to expire on March 18, though the agency could renew it if it chooses.