PHILADELPHIA—In response to growing numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia, and an increase in hospitalizations, the City announced new policies designed to slow the spread of the dangerous Delta variant.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, August 12, 2021, masks will be required indoors at all Philadelphia businesses and institutions that do not require vaccination for employees and patrons. Masks will also be required in all outdoor, unseated gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

As of 12:01 a.m. September 1, all City employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be double-masked when working in enclosed workspaces with others.

“The updated policies we announced today are critical to slowing the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is more dangerous and transmissible than earlier forms of the virus,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The science is clear: these measures will protect Philadelphians and save lives. We strongly urge everyone who has not yet received the vaccine to get it  immediately; it is the best and safest way we can get through this deadly and unpredictable pandemic. We flattened the curve before and we must do everything in our power to do it again.”

“Cities and states throughout the United States are seeing a rise in new COVID cases,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “To stop the spread of the dangerous Delta variant and to protect those too young to be vaccinated, we are instituting new policies that have been proven to prevent the spread of COVID. Masks and vaccines make a real difference in the spread and severity of this infection.”

The indoor mask mandate beginning on August 12 requires that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wears a mask in all Philadelphia businesses and institutions that do not have an enforced vaccine requirement. City of Philadelphia buildings do not have a vaccine requirement, so masks are required for staff, visitors, and patrons in public areas, regardless of vaccination status.

Indoor dining will be allowed to continue in the following cases:

  • In restaurants that require proof of vaccination, and
  • In restaurants that do not require proof of vaccination, provided masks are worn by patrons and staff the entire time while not seated and eating or drinking.

Additionally, masks will be required at all non-seated outdoor events in the City of Philadelphia with greater than 1,000 attendees.

On September 1, all new City of Philadelphia employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and all current employees will be required to be fully vaccinated or be double-masked when working in enclosed workspaces with others. Unvaccinated staff will be required to wear a disposable surgical mask, which can be supplied by the City, underneath of a cloth mask. As soon as two weeks have elapsed since their final dose of COVID vaccine have passed, employees will no longer be required to be double-masked at work.

On July 5, Philadelphia reported the lowest number of average new cases of COVID of the pandemic, when the city averaged 23 new cases per day. Only August 9, the average new cases of COVID reported by the City was 180. The average number of new cases per day in Philadelphia has doubled three times in a month.

On July 19, the City reported only 48 people in Philadelphia hospitals due to COVID. On August 9, the City reported 118 people in Philadelphia hospitals due to COVID, more than double the previous low.

For the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit For more information on the City’s mask mandate visit the Health Department’s blog post. For more information on the new employee vaccination and mask requirements, visit the Health Department’s blog post.