The city of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA) announced Thursday that it will eliminate its obligation to wear masks indoors, just four days after this mandate takes effect again in the locality.
The decision by Philadelphia officials to resume mandatory use of masks indoors in the face of rising COVID-19 infections contrasted with measures taken in the rest of the United States , which since March have relaxed rules on the use of face coverings.
Additionally, Monday’s entry into force of Philadelphia’s mandate coincided with a decision by a Florida federal judge that overturned the order to wear a mask on public transportation across the country, including planes, trains, buses, stations and airports.
Philadelphia’s local rule conflicted with the federal court’s ruling, causing confusion and frustration, especially after the city’s transit company said it would no longer require the use of masks on trains and buses to comply with the ruling.
On Wednesday, a group of Philadelphia businessmen asked a state court to stop the city’s mask mandate, arguing that it was causing “irreparable harm,” reported The Philadelphia Inquirer. Finally, this Thursday night, the mayor’s office, Jim Kenney, announced that the local board of health had voted to terminate the term of the indoor mask .
“Due to the decline in hospitalizations and the stabilization of the infection count, the city will now strongly recommend masks in public places indoors, in lieu of a mask mandate,” Mayor spokesman Kevin Lessard told the aforementioned newspaper.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the city fell on Thursday to 65, the lowest figure in a week.
The U.S. Department of Justice has appealed the Florida judge’s decision that overturned the mandate for the mask on public transportation, ensuring that such an order falls within the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In early March, the United States overcame the wave of the Ómicron variant, the one with the highest number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic , and relaxed the use of masks indoors, although not on public transport.
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