PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is taking big steps to get the coronavirus pandemic under control once and for all. A new mask mandate is now in effect. The mandate went into effect at midnight Thursday.
Face coverings must be worn inside unless the business requires proof of vaccination.
To quell rising COVID-19 cases, Philadelphia officials announced sweeping restrictions Wednesday, including a mandate effective at midnight Thursday that businesses in the city require either masks or proof of vaccination for all its employees and customers.
“We know we need to take stronger steps to protect our residents,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Kenney announced new COVID-19 restrictions for Philadelphia on Wednesday to combat cases that have doubled three times in a month.
“Things don’t look good right now, especially in light of what we’re seeing in other states,” Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said.
The city will now require masks indoors at all locations unless vaccinations are required for everyone. Masks will also be required at all outdoor, unseated gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
For indoor dining, masks will be required unless the restaurant requires proof of vaccination for patrons and staff. There are no changes for outdoor dining, which can continue unrestricted.
“I’m upset,” Kenney said.
The mayor expressed frustration that the new mandates are needed because about 30% of the city has not been vaccinated.
“This amazes me that this is the most simple thing to do to keep yourself safe and your family safe and your community safe and people still refuse to do it,” Kenney said.
Starting Sept. 1, all city employees will be required to be fully vaccinated if they work inside or be double-masked.
“Getting vaccinated isn’t just a personal decision,” Bettigole said. “It’s a decision that affects all of us.”
City officials say the new restrictions are medically necessary but measured to not further impact the economy.
Most city unions are expressing support.
“A mandate will help in stopping this disease,” American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 33 President Ernest Garrett said.
But the Firefighters and Paramedics Union is opposed to the new restrictions.
“We are not going to sit there and tolerate anyone jamming anything down our throats,” Local 22 Philly President Mike Bresnan said.
“If somebody wants to sue us for trying to keep them alive, then we’ll see what the judge has to say,” Kenney said.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles updated their health and safety protocols following the city’s new requirements.
Fans will be required to wear masks while at locations indoors at Lincoln Financial Field but not while outdoors. Fans will not have to show proof of vaccination at the Linc, the Eagles said.
Unvaccinated fans are strongly encouraged to always wear a mask unless eating or drinking. Fans should also bring their own masks with them to the stadium.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 11, 2021
Officials said anyone who violates the new COVID-19 safety requirements can face fines.
Philadelphia residents can get proof of vaccination if they lost their cards by calling the city’s COVID-19 call center at 215-685-5488 or emailing COVID@phila.gov.
CBS’s Stephanie Stahl contributed to this report.