PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia officials announced Wednesday that the city is moving into the "all clear" response level and is dropping the indoor mask mandate effective immediately.
The all clear level lifts the city-specific mask mandates, but federal mask mandates in places like healthcare facilities and on public transportation remain in place.
Mask mandates in schools and at private businesses are also separate from the city's restrictions.
Officials said if things continue to move in the right direction, mandatory masking in schools would end March 9. There will be a one-week mask requirement after spring break to avoid a post break surge in cases, officials said.
Following the announcement, The School District of Philadelphia released the following statement:
"As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, the School District of Philadelphia follows the guidance of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH). With this latest announcement that the City of Philadelphia is prepared to relax its mask mandate starting Wednesday, March 9, mask wearing would be optional for all students and staff with the exception of Pre-K Head Start programs, where students and staff are required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to wear masks.
If mask wearing becomes optional in District schools and offices, our collective goal remains the same: to have students, staff and families work together to maintain healthy learning and work environments that allow for us to keep our schools open for full-time, in-person learning. We will continue to stay in communication with all of our stakeholders about how we can keep our students and staff safe while in our schools."
Last month, Philadelphia Public Health officials released COVID Response Levels that use pandemic metrics to help know when the City's public mandates would be enforced.
There are four levels of response: "All Clear," "Mask Precautions Only," "Caution" and "Extreme Caution."
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the all clear is issued once the city reaches a lower than 2% positive-testing rate and other metrics.
On Wednesday, she said the health department had recalculated the percent positive rate, which previously only included PCR tests, to include any data they received for rapid and other tests. The recalculation moved the rate to 1.7%
The news was welcomed at businesses across the city.
"I loved it. I'm ready. I'm done. I'm ready for them to be done," said Cianna Lomastro of Sulimay's Barber Shop.
"I'm grateful for the direction that we're going in. I hope we continue to move in this direction," said Matt Hendricks, the co-owner of Thirsty Dice.
But others say as far as not wearing masks indoors, they'll make their own call.
"Probably based off different situations. With people I know, maybe not wear a mask. But more public places lots of people, I don't know, I'll wear a mask," said Thomas Meehan of North Philadelphia.
The city issued the following reminders with Wednesday's announcement:
Even when we're in All Clear, certain higher-risk settings like schools (including public, private, Archdiocesan, charter, and early childhood education), healthcare settings, and public transit still require people to wear masks.
City buildings will require masks until Monday, March 7. Beginning on that date, masks will be optional for visitors and fully vaccinated staff. Unvaccinated staff are still required to wear two masks while indoors and around others.
Businesses and other institutions are allowed to require proof of vaccination or that everyone wear a mask.
And finally, some people might still want extra protection against COVID and will wear masks while they're around others. There's nothing wrong with this and these people do not deserve harassment. Some may have a family member that is at high-risk, some may be sick and are actually protecting you, and some may just want to be safe. All of those, and more, are valid reasons to keep wearing masks.
Following the city's announcement, The Wells Fargo Center issued a statement saying they will also end the mask requirement.
"This is a day we've been waiting nearly two years for, and finally, our fans can watch the Flyers, 76ers, concerts, and more just like they used to at Wells Fargo Center," said Valerie Camillo, president of Business Operations for Wells Fargo Center and the Philadelphia Flyers. "Starting tonight, the full roar of Broad Street is officially back, and we're more than ready to welcome our fans back to the best environment in all of sports and entertainment."