Philadelphia Will Not Relax Indoor Mask Requirement Yet

Stephanie Stahl reports.

Video Transcript

- Now the city of Philadelphia is updating mask guidelines. They won't be required outside starting Friday, but you'll still need to wear them indoors, at least for a few more weeks. Health reporter, Stephanie Stahl, has more of the update from city officials. Stephanie?

STEPHANIE STAHL: Well Ukee, federal and state officials say masks are no longer necessary for people who are fully vaccinated, but Philadelphia officials are being more cautious. So now, rules on wearing a mask in the city depend on where you are. Philadelphia will drop its outside mask mandate on Friday, May 21. That includes at restaurants and sporting events, except if you're not vaccinated.

CHERYL BETTIGOLE: We're not out of the woods yet, but we have seen clear improvement over the past few months as more and more Philadelphians receive their vaccines.

STEPHANIE STAHL: In her first press briefing as Acting Health Commissioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the city's indoor mask mandate would stay in place until at least June 11.

CHERYL BETTIGOLE: We will review case counts, COVID test positivity rates, hospitalizations, and vaccine coverage rates to see if it is safe to further loosen our mask guidance.

STEPHANIE STAHL: On June 11, the city is scheduled to eliminate all capacity limits, and as long as numbers continue to go in the right direction, the inside mask requirement will also be dropped.

CHERYL BETTIGOLE: We can now be comfortable, finally, that people who are fully vaccinated are not only protected from getting sick with COVID, they're also protected from passing it to others.

STEPHANIE STAHL: But Dr. Bettigole is concerned about low vaccination rates among younger minority residents, which is why the Health Department will wait a few more weeks to decide on indoor masks.

CHERYL BETTIGOLE: It's an enforcement nightmare to know who's vaccinated and who isn't.

STEPHANIE STAHL: She also addressed the sudden resignation of Dr. Farley, who's embroiled with the mishandling of the remains of MOVE members.

CHERYL BETTIGOLE: Dr. Farley undoubtedly saved thousands of lives here in Philadelphia. Fortunately, we have a tremendous team of people in the Health Department who are working on this response.

STEPHANIE STAHL: Now, the State of Pennsylvania will lift its remaining COVID restrictions in time for the Memorial Day weekend. Philadelphia is going to wait two extra weeks, so the only thing technically changing today is you can take your mask off outside starting on Friday. Jessica?

- All right, Stephanie. Thank you.