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First Major US City Reinstates Mask Mandate

Due to rising COVID cases, Philadelphia is bringing back masks on April 18.

Masks are being mandated again for indoor areas in Philadelphia.
Sarah Tew/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Philadelphia will be reinstating its COVID-19 mask mandate next week, the city said Monday. Masks will be required in all indoor public spaces from April 18, including schools, childcare facilities, businesses, restaurants and government buildings.

"The mask mandate is tied to the COVID Response Levels, and as COVID cases rise in Philly, we want to protect our most vulnerable residents," Philadelphia Public Health tweeted. "Wearing a mask around others is an easy way to do that. The sooner that we can stop this wave, the sooner we can get back to Level 1."

Residents are being asked to report businesses not complying with the mask mandate.

Read more: Put Down That Cloth Mask. These Are the Best Face Masks to Help Avoid COVID

The COVID level in Philadelphia County is still listed on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website as being low, a level at which the CDC recommends wearing a mask based on personal preference. 

The World Health Organization's current advice is that all members of the public should wear a well-fitting mask covering the nose and mouth in indoor settings, "irrespective of vaccination status or history of prior infection."

The new mandate comes as Ba.2, or "stealth omicron," is now responsible for more than 70% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, data from the CDC showed last week. The more contagious version of omicron has caused another large wave of COVID in Europe.

Hawaii was the last American state to remove its mask mandate on March 25, with major US cities removing mandates in February and March as COVID levels dropped.