Updated 3/3 at 6:23 p.m.
The City of Philadelphia ended its mask mandate for most public indoor spaces amid falling COVID-19 cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations, said Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole at the city’s COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.
The new guidance does not apply to higher risk settings like schools, public transit, health care settings or congregate settings.
Colleges and universities can choose whether to enforce an indoor mask mandate, wrote James Garrow, communications director for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, in an email to The Temple News. Businesses and other institutions can also choose whether or not to keep their mask and vaccine mandates.
Temple University will still require students to wear masks upon returning to campus next week from spring break, wrote Mark Denys, director of student health services, in an email to the Temple community Thursday.
The university will continue to monitor case counts and positivity rates once students return and then re-evaluate mask requirements, he wrote.
With the end of the mask mandate, Philadelphia has entered the “All Clear” phase of the city’s four-level response to the pandemic. The city reached the “All Clear” response level because it has reported less than 100 new cases per day, a less than 2 percent positivity rate and cases have risen by less than 50 percent in the past 10 days, Garrow wrote. Cases and hospitalizations are continuing to drop.
The city will keep evaluating COVID-19 data and may decide to lift the mask mandate in public, private, charter and archdiocese schools on March 9, with a week of masking after spring break, Bettigole said.
The end of the mask mandate came weeks after Philadelphia dropped its vaccine mandate for indoor dining on Feb. 16. More than 1,200,000 people are fully vaccinated in Philadelphia, according to the city’s vaccine dashboard.
“We recommend that everyone who’s eligible get up to date on their vaccinations as soon as possible,” Bettigole said.