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Update: Four days after implementing it, Philadelphia is reportedly planning to rescind the mask mandate, with a detailed announcement expected Friday morning.
It’s confusing AF out there when it comes to where you’re required to wear a mask.
As of Tuesday night, SEPTA is no longer requiring masks on public transit or in stations. The agency’s announcement comes after a Florida judge voided the federal mandate for planes and other travel. That happened on the same day Philly’s citywide indoor mask mandate was reinstated, to adhere to pre-set metrics outlined in the city’s COVID response system, which is different from the CDC’s system.
Cases and hospitalizations in Philly are on the rise, but are still lower than the previous surge. That’s true across the region and the U.S., but Philadelphia so far is the only city to reinstate a general mask-or-vax rule.
It’s a widely debated issue, and recent polls show Americans are split. Experts agree masking helps reduce COVID spread, but small biz owners like restaurateurs and others say it’s economically devastating.
After the Florida ruling by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Mizelle, officials in the Biden administration said they’ll appeal the ruling if the CDC deems masking necessary, but won’t try to enforce the travel mandate in the meantime. This means masks aren’t required on public transit vehicles like Amtrak for the first time since the early days of the pandemic — though the CDC still recommends passengers mask up.
If you’re having trouble keeping up, we don’t blame you. Here’s a list of the places you are or are not currently required to wear a mask in Philadelphia.
(We’ll work to keep this updated as the rules inevitably change. Have a location we should look into adding to the list? Hit us up: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mask is optional
- SEPTA buses, trains, and trolleys
- SEPTA stations and concourses
- PATCO trains
- Uber rides
- Lyft rides
- NJ Transit
- Most airlines at PHL Airport
- Eating or drinking at a bar, restaurant, or cafe
- Any Philly business that requires proof of full vaccination to enter
Mask is required
- PHL Airport terminals (unless you’re seated and eating or drinking)
- SEPTA corporate offices
- Restaurants, bars, and cafes (unless you’re seated and eating or drinking)
- Retail stores
- Movie theaters (unless you’re seated and eating or drinking)
- Sports arenas (unless you’re seated and eating or drinking)
- Hospitals and health care facilities
- Religious institutions
- Philadelphia Taxi Cab Service (other taxi companies may have different rules)
- Free Library locations
- Barber shops and Salons
- Banquet halls
- Convention centers
- Museums (unless you’re seated and eating or drinking)
- Federal and municipal courtrooms