Mayor Jim Kenney and Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole held a press conference on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, informing the public about easing restrictions in the city.
Effective immediately, dining venues no longer need to require proof of vaccination to enter. In addition to restaurants, the order includes the Liacouras Center and the Wells Fargo Center. Case numbers have been falling in the city and the positivity rate is down to 2.9%. With these numbers, Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole says that the city could finally start seeing some changes.
The health commissioner credits the dining establishments that were cooperative for allowing the city to get where we are now. “Philadelphia’s vaccine mandate on our dining establishments has been hard on our restaurants and on our places of entertainment. But the work those establishments have done has helped to decrease transmission and to increase vaccination rates in the city”, says Bettigole
Philadelphia officials have been following a four-phase plan that allowed the city to ease up on restrictions as the severity of the pandemic decreases. In order of most to least restrictive, the levels are Extreme Caution, Caution, Mask Precaution Only, and All-Clear.
Currently, the city of Philadelphia is in the mask precaution stage. In order to reach the next and final “All-Clear” level, 3 out of 4 criteria must be met. The city would need to see less than 100 cases per day, 50 or fewer hospitalizations per day, and a positivity rate of 2% or less. In addition, cases can not increase by more than 50% in the previous 10 days.
Mayor Kenney said, “The key to all of this is being disciplined, following the rules, getting vaccinated, and wearing your […] mask”.
These restrictions can fluctuate based on the numbers. This means that if cases were to increase, we could see restrictions put back in place.
These recent changes don’t apply to colleges for the time being. Dr, Bettigole says that the conversation about mandates at schools is something that is a work in progress.