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Philadelphia Implements New Mask Mandate Two Months After Lifting Mask Restrictions for Businesses Not Mandating Vaccines

Key Takeaways

  • Effective August 12, 2021, masks will be required indoors at all businesses and institutions, unless exempted, for all employees and patrons in Philadelphia

  • Businesses and institutions that mandate vaccinations for everyone entering their doors are exempt from the new mask mandate

  • Masks will be required for staff and patrons for indoor dining unless the business mandates proof of vaccination for all employees, patrons, and third parties


On August 11, 2021, Mayor Jim Kenney announced a new mask mandate for businesses and institutions that do not mandate vaccinations for employees, patrons, and guests within the City of Philadelphia. At 12:01 a.m. on August 12, 2021, masks must be worn indoors at all business and institutions within the city limits, unless exempt (see below re: exemption requirements). Businesses and employers must require masks for all persons within and entering their business and must monitor compliance starting August 12, 2021.

Businesses that mandate vaccinations or require proof of vaccination for everyone that enters their doors are exempt from the new rule. The new mandate is clear that if guests are not vaccinated then everyone, including those who are vaccinated, are required to wear masks indoors.

All employees working for the City of Philadelphia must wear double masks while working unless they are fully vaccinated. Furthermore, all City employees hired after September 1, 2021 must be vaccinated.

With regard to indoor dining, masks will be required for staff and patrons unless the establishment requires proof of vaccinations for everyone. Masks may be removed by patrons when seated.

Masks will be required at all non-seated outdoor events in Philadelphia with more than 1,000 attendees.

It appears that the purpose of the new mask provision is to encourage businesses and employers to mandate vaccinations for employees, patrons, and guests. For employers concerned about mandating or requiring vaccinations for employees, the courts have upheld vaccine mandates due to the health emergency to date. However, requests for religious exemptions and medical exemptions should be considered by employers and reviewed within the requirements of Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mayor Kenney and the acting health commissioner indicated that this is only the next step in protecting the residents of Philadelphia. If COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the city, more stringent requirements will be issued. Employers should rehang signs throughout their business highlighting mask requirements or mandating vaccine requirements if adopted.

If you have any questions about these changes or how they impact your business, please contact: