By Madeleine Wright

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia had an about-face on face masks. The city on Friday lifted its indoor mask mandate just four days after making the controversial decision to bring it back. As part of the announcement, the city also scrapped the four response levels it created that determined the risk of COVID-19 in the city.

As customers enjoy the beautiful weather Friday by dining outdoors, they’re feeling a sense of whiplash after the city abandoned its indoor mask mandate just days after reinstating it. Businesses have mixed reactions to the city’s decision.

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On Friday morning, businesses like Retro Fitness in Spring Garden took their “masks required” signs down now that face coverings are no longer required in public indoor spaces in Philadelphia.

Ryan Neel is the general manager at Retro Fitness on Spring Garden Street.

“I was not expecting that as we just brought it back on Monday,” Neel said.

The mask mandate led to an unusual conundrum at the gym. There were some customers who signed up for the gym right before the mask mandate went back into effect Monday.

Then, when the city started requiring masks which prompted the gym to reinstate its policy that all customers be vaccinated so members could work out without a mask, some new customers didn’t want to get vaccinated but had already paid.

The gym froze their memberships so they wouldn’t have to keep paying for a gym they didn’t have access to.

(Credit: CBS3)

Now that the mask mandate is over, those memberships can be unfrozen and unvaccinated members can access the gym.

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“A little relieved because it tends to create some tension, especially in the gym environment, just going between the vaccinations and the masks, so I can’t say I’m unhappy about it,” Neel said.

Across the street at Xpressions Beauty Boutique, almost all the stylists and customers are still choosing to cover up, despite the end of the city’s mandate.

“I am sick of wearing a mask, however, I don’t have the luxury of being 6 feet from my clients, working in the salon,” stylist Kim Stallworth said, “so I like to keep my mask on. And I like for my clients to be able to wear theirs as well. It’s safer.”

(Credit: CBS3)

Down the street at Stockyard Sandwich Co., bookkeeper April Lindsay feels the city was too quick to end its mask mandate amid the declining COVID-19 case count.

“It should be long enough that we can see the results when the numbers start to go down, not just see numbers going down and take our masks off and get sick,” Lindsay said.

At Jack’s Firehouse restaurant on Fairmount Avenue, some customers feel more comfortable dining outdoors now that customers inside are no longer required to wear masks.

“I know the case counts are lower now, but there’s still a lot of cases and I just feel, in general, more safe outside than inside if I have the choice to dine outside,” Jen Hensler said.

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Even though these signs have been taken down, businesses are not throwing them out just yet. They’re prepared to put them up again if the mask mandate comes back.

Madeleine Wright