Philadelphia city health officials announced a reversal of an indoor mask mandate that recently went into effect in the city.

The Philadelphia health department said the Board of Health voted on Thursday to rescind the mandate, which city officials say will be lifted Friday morning.

“Due to decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts, the city will move to strongly recommend masks in indoor public spaces as opposed to a mask mandate,” a department spokesperson said in a statement late on Thursday. “Given the latest data, the [Board of Health] voted to rescind the mandate.”

The department said more information would be provided on Friday.

The city’s acting health commissioner, Cheryl Bettigole, told the Board of Health at a public meeting Thursday night that hospitalizations have decreased by about 25 percent in recent days—from 82 patients to 65 patients—reported 6 ABC.

According to a transcript of the meeting seen by the outlet, Bettigole said that the situation is “good news.” She said she was “really very happy … to say it appears that we no longer need to mandate masks in Philadelphia and that we can actually move to simply a strong recommendation.”

Philadelphia had previously announced it was reinstating the indoor mask mandate on April 11, citing rising cases of COVID-19. The temporary emergency order (pdf), which went into effect on April 18, made Philadelphia the first major U.S. city to reimpose indoor mask requirements.

Officials had said the order came amid a more than 50 percent rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city compared to the previous 10 days.

In response, several businesses and residents on April 16 filed a state court lawsuit to overturn the mandate.

Philadelphia, which has about 1.5 million residents, had ended its earlier indoor mask mandate March 2, amid a decline in cases after the Omicron variant wave in January.

Most cities and states in the United States have recently been loosening restrictions, including mask mandates, despite new COVID-19 variants.


Gabrielle Stephenson is a reporter covering world news. She is currently based in Australia.

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