Update April 22, 2022: The City of Philadelphia announced today that residents and visitors are strongly encouraged, but not required, to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. This change follows a recent leveling-off of case counts and a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the city.

All residents are permitted and encouraged to wear a mask in any setting. Businesses and other institutions are allowed to be more strict than the City’s COVID-19 policies, so some businesses may require proof of vaccination or require that everyone wears a mask. Schools may set their own mask policies, and it is strongly encouraged that students and teachers continue to keep each other safe by wearing a mask. Masks will continue to be required in healthcare settings and congregate settings such as nursing homes and shelters.

All information below was previously published.

The Health Department has announced that, as of Monday, April 11, 2022, the City is moving to Level 2: Mask Precautions. In order to provide a one-week education period for businesses, masks will be required in all indoor public spaces as of Monday, April 18. But, given the increasing cases, there’s no reason not to start wearing them today.

What are COVID-19 Response Levels?

In February, the City announced the COVID-19 Response Levels. These levels are a series of metrics intended to openly and transparently tie the City’s response to the pandemic to what’s actually happening with COVID-19 in Philadelphia. When cases go up, the City will implement mitigation measures intended to protect our communities. When cases go down and things become safer, the City will lift those measures. You can learn more about what metrics the Health Department is tracking, the current Response Level, and where the metrics are on the City’s COVID-19 website.

Where are we now?

As of today, April 11, Philadelphia is averaging 142 new cases of COVID-19 each day. This number is more than 50% higher than the 84 average new cases that was reported ten days ago, on April 1. This means that not only are cases getting higher, they’re going up more quickly than the Health Department feels is safe. Hospitalizations have stayed steady around 50 for the last two weeks. Today, there are 46 people hospitalized in Philadelphia who have COVID-19.

When does this start?

Because of these metrics, the City will move into Level 2: Mask Precautions today. This means that masks will soon be required in all public indoor spaces, including schools, businesses, museums, restaurants, offices, and government buildings. Businesses and institutions can go mask-free if they require everyone on-site to be fully vaccinated and check vaccine status upon entry.

Businesses and institutions will be given a one-week education period for the City to provide education, and for businesses to put signs back up and notify their staff and patrons. Beginning on Monday, April 18, the City will begin enforcement of the mask mandate and asks that residents call 311 to report any business that is not complying with the mandate.

Why is the City doing this?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By implementing the mask mandate sooner rather than later, the Health Department hopes to keep the number of cases from skyrocketing, like we saw in December and January from the Omicron variant. If we can keep cases low, it will be less likely that our most vulnerable residents will be exposed. If we can keep cases low, we can protect our hospitals from being overrun, like they were in January. We know that masks work to protect us and our communities, so the sooner that Philadelphians start wearing them, the safer we all may be.

When will the mask mandate end?

The mask mandate is tied to the City’s COVID-19 Response Levels. Once we meet two of the three metrics in the All Clear Level, the Health Department will drop the mask mandate again. There was worry that Philadelphia would never reach Level 1: All Clear, but we did and we stayed there for a while, and we’re already looking forward to getting back there.

We hope to get back to All Clear soon, but we won’t leave our most vulnerable residents to navigate this pandemic on their own. We all play a part in ensuring the safety of our community. The sooner that we can stop this wave, the sooner we can get back to being all clear.