Philadelphia First Major US City to Reimpose Indoor Mask Mandate

The City of Brotherly Love on Monday announced it will reimpose its indoor mask mandate in a performative attempt to keep up with Shanghai.

Philadelphia the first major U.S. city to bring back a mask requirement as the BA.2 Omicron subvariant gives government officials another excuse to impose authoritarian measures on the populace.

The mandate goes into effect on April 18.

State and local leaders across the U.S. have moved to drop pandemic mitigation measures in recent months as cases trended down following the prevalence of Omicron this winter.

Purported cases are reportedly rising in more than half of the states, though the daily average of cases remains relatively low at roughly 31,000 — the lowest daily average since last summer.

Philadelphia’s move to tighten restrictions could be a sign that leaders across the country will also be reimposing mask mandates in preparation for the midterm elections.

Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said the city would move to the second level, which requires indoor masking, reporting an average 142 new cases a day, roughly 50 percent higher than they were 10 days ago. She said 750 people in Philadelphia died during the Omicron winter wave, and that the city is trying to get ahead of another surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

“We don’t know if the BA.2 variant in Philadelphia will have the kind of impact on hospitalizations and deaths that we saw with the original Omicron variant this winter,” Bettigole said. “I suspect that this wave will be smaller than the one we saw in January.”

It is not clear how long the mask mandate will be in place. Bettigole said lifting the restriction will be dependent on hospitalization data.