The use of double masking is returning, at least for those not getting vaccinated. Philadelphia's mandate for city employees forces them to choose between getting fully vaccinated or wearing two masks. The announcement was made on Wednesday and will take effect on September 1, giving employees less than a month's notice.
The announcement in part read, with original emphasis:
The City has a vested interest in ensuring that all staff are protected as thoroughly as possible from severe COVID infection and death. That’s why as of September 1, the City will be instituting the following new policies:
- All City employees will be required to provide proof that they’ve completed their schedule of COVID-19 vaccinations,
- New employees hired must be fully vaccinated a a condition of their employment, and
- Employees who are not fully vaccinated by September 1 will be required to wear two masks (a cloth mask over a disposable or surgical mask) at all times while working on-site.
Former Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), who is running for governor, called the mandate "absurd" in a statement he shared to Twitter.
Forcing workers to double mask or be fired is absurd. My statement on the City of Philadelphia’s new mask mandate ?? pic.twitter.com/uNh6P1nzD8— Lou Barletta (@RepLouBarletta) August 11, 2021
Effective Thursday, indoor businesses are also required to mandate masks or to check proof of vaccine for customers and employees. Rudy Chinchilla with local NBC outlet WCAU reported that businesses will be fined if they don't check:
Businesses that opt for requiring proof of vaccination will need to check vaccine cards – either the paper card issued by vaccine providers or a photo of said card – at the door, [Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl] Bettigole said. Business owners who choose the proof of vaccine option will be subject to fines if they do not check customers’ status.
The city's official Twitter account even took advantage of Friday the 13th to drive the point home about masking.
Yet another mandate came on Friday, which requires city healthcare workers, as well as college and university students, staff, and faculty to be vaccinated effective October 15.
The announcement includes this question and answer:
Q: Is it fair that people who want an exemption from these mandates must pay to see a doctor?
A: While many people may want a medical exemption so they don’t need to receive a COVID vaccine, medical exemptions should only be used for people that truly cannot receive the COVID vaccine. The vast majority of people in Philadelphia will not require a medical exemption. The Health Department strongly believes that being fully vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and the people around you from severe COVID infections and to bring this pandemic wave to an end.