Philadelphia to drop mask mandate days after reinstating it

The city will move to 'strongly recommending' masks, but did not clarify when the mandate would lift

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Philadelphia will end its COVID-19 indoor mask mandate less than a week after reinstating it, city health officials said Thursday night. 

The Board of Health voted Thursday to rescind the mandate, according to the city's health department. 

The department cited "decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts" of COVID-19 in a statement, the Associated Press reported. 

On Monday, April 11, the Health Department announced that Philadelphia would require face masks indoors beginning this past Monday, April 18. The city had previously ended its indoor mask mandate March 2. 

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney speaks during a news conference at Pennsylvania Convention Center as vote counting continues three days after the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz 

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney speaks during a news conference at Pennsylvania Convention Center as vote counting continues three days after the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz  (Reuters)

The department did not release data to justify the abrupt reversal Thursday, rather stating that more information will be provided Friday. 

Philadelphia had been the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate, but it faced fierce blowblack, in addition to a legal challenge.

A sign requiring masks as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus on a store front in Philadelphia, is seen Feb. 16, 2022.

A sign requiring masks as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus on a store front in Philadelphia, is seen Feb. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

"The City will move to strongly recommending masks in indoor public spaces as opposed to a mask mandate," the health department said in a statement.

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The city did not clarify when the mandate would lift.

Airlines and other travel-related businesses have dropped their own face mask requirements after a federal judge in Florida blocked the Biden administration's travel mask mandate.