Philadelphia sets benchmarks to end COVID-19 restrictions, drops vaccine mandate for indoor dining
Philadelphia sets benchmarks to end COVID-19 restrictions, drops vaccine mandate for indoor dining

Philadelphia sets benchmarks to end COVID-19 restrictions, drops vaccine mandate for indoor dining

Philadelphia officials have announced that the city will end its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for indoor dining under a new, tiered system of safety standards and safeguards.

City leaders and health officials announced the new standards during their weekly briefing on Wednesday, as the number of cases has dropped markedly over the past several weeks. Mayor Kenney hinted at the upcoming changes on Tuesday.

The four-step system will allow officials to use metrics to control decisions about when restrictions and mandates should be dropped. They say these measurements will also be used to determine when restrictions and mandates should be re-implemented if the numbers worsen.

On top of the omicron rise around January 3, Philadelphia reported 38% positivity rates and approx. 2,600 daily cases.

On Tuesday, the city reported a positivity rate of less than 3% and less than 200 daily cases on average in recent weeks.

Under the new system, health officials will turn their focus to four key measurements: COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, test positivity rates, and the rate of increase in cases.

Response levels are labeled as follows: Extreme Caution, Caution, Mask Precautions Only, and All Clear. Philadelphia Health Commissioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, says that the current measurements, Philadelphia has just entered the ‘Mask Precautions Only’ level.

Mask precautions mean that the city has reached the benchmark that allows an immediate end to the vaccine mandate on businesses serving food for consumption on the spot. The vaccine mandate for indoor eating was lifted immediately, Bettigole announced.

Other mitigation measures, such as indoor masking, will remain in place until these measurements are further improved.

Bettigole said during the briefing that the city could reach the All Clear level within the next few weeks if the number continues to decline and variables such as a new variant do not create a new increase in COVID-19 cases.

Several states across the country have announced an end to universal mask mandates over the past several weeks, including nearby Delaware. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy put one down deadline for masking in primary schools.

The requirement for indoor eating vaccine was applicable to the following companies:

  • Indoor restaurant room
  • Cafes in larger spaces (such as museums)
  • Bars
  • Sports venues serving food or drinks for on-site consumption
  • Cinemas
  • Bowling alleys
  • Other entertainment venues serving on-site food or drink
  • Conventions (if food is served)
  • Catering halls
  • Casinos where food and drink are allowed on the floor
  • Food court seating must be cordoned off and have someone check vaccine status upon access to the seating area

The mandate also applied to the Wells Fargo Center and other indoor sports venues, where people buy food and eat it in their seats.

Bettigole also announced the creation of a vaccine incentive program. Starting this week, at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Community Clinics, Philadelphians, who complete their primary COVID-19 vaccine line, will receive $ 100. For security reasons, the city will not distribute cash, but distribute the funds via mobile apps or a physical gift card by mail.

For more information on the vaccination incentive, click here.

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