The mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine went into effect last month, proof of vaccination is required to eat indoors.
Action News has learned that future restrictions, especially for indoor lunches, will be based on a tiered system.
Four levels will define leadership.
They are “all clear”, which means the absence of masks and, in fact, a return to normal life.
Then there’s “Masks Only,” which means coverage for the face, but no testing or proof of vaccination is required.
The next level is “Caution”, where restaurants will need a negative test for COVID-19 within 24 hours of sitting.
“Extreme caution” would mean the city returns to a vaccine mandate for all restaurants.
For each level there will be four criteria: average daily number of cases, hospitalizations, positivity indicators and direction of trends over the last 10 days.
“The multi-tiered system is time,” said Ben Filecha of the Pennsylvania Association of Restaurants and Housing. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have asked for some indicators … now we can look at the data, we can look at hospitalizations, we can look at the positivity indicators and see for ourselves whether the trend is again in the right direction to abolish these mandates.”
After a meeting last week with the city’s Department of Health, Ed Grouse, president of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, is waiting for good news.
“They told us they were going to start the process of revoking mandates based on the number of cases, and there is a list of four criteria in each rollback. We are very pleased (Health Commissioner) Dr. Bettigol and she is the team to take the time to listen to us, ”Grose said.
Asked to comment, a city spokesman said: “We are actively discussing how and when to update COVID-19 policy as the number of cases and other factors improves, but these decisions are not yet final.”
CDC data show that as of Feb. 13, Philadelphia recorded an average of about 357 new cases of COVID-19 per day, down 88% from the time the vaccine mandate took effect on Jan. 3.
“I feel like the only choice is to really just do it and see what happens,” said Eliza Ryan of Fairmount. “You can always apply it again.”
Restaurant owner Shane Dodd of Fairview in Fairmount said he was excited about the opportunity to get one step closer to normal life.
“People are cautious, and anything that removes those restrictions and makes people feel a little more confident going out is obviously good for business,” Dodd said.
But some residents say easing the protocols is a step in the wrong direction.
“Honestly, I would be very uncomfortable going outside,” said Maddie Shea of Fairmount.
Spouni O’Neill from the Irish pub O’Neals on South 3rd Street hopes there will be clear guidelines so institutions don’t have to make critical decisions.
“Going back to asking people to wear masks all the time until they sit down will be a problem again. It was a problem because they didn’t seem to want to do it more than show vaccination cards,” O’Neill said.
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