Philadelphians share mixed reactions after city reinstates indoor mask mandate

While some Philadelphians are glad the precaution is being put in place, others are frustrated by the move.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The mask requirement signs are slowly being put back on doors and windows at businesses across Philadelphia.

Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said mask precautions begin Monday, but in order to provide a one-week education period for businesses, masks will be required in all indoor public spaces as of Monday, April 18.

While some Philadelphians are glad the precaution is being put in place, others are frustrated by the move.

"I think it's good to wear your mask to be safe," said Mike Tyson from Southwest Philadelphia.

"I have an autoimmune disease, so I don't feel safe without it," added Cassandra Ferebee of West Philadelphia.

"I think it should be left up to each individual to decide," said Peter Johnson from Chestnut Hill.

Starting April 18, masks will be required in all indoor public spaces, including schools and child care settings, businesses, restaurants, and government buildings

"If we fail to act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections has been followed by a wave of hospitalizations, and then a wave of deaths, it will be too late for many of our residents," said Bettigole, noting about 750 Philadelphia residents died in the wintertime omicron outbreak. "This is our chance to get ahead of the pandemic, to put our masks on until we have more information about the severity of this new variant."

The restaurant industry pushed back against the mandate, saying workers will bear the brunt of customer anger over the new rules.

"This announcement is a major blow to thousands of small businesses and other operators in the city who were hoping this spring would be the start of recovery," said Ben Fileccia, senior director of operations at the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.

David Rovner of Coventry Deli in Center City says he relies on foot traffic in the city.

"I don't know if people are going to say, 'Well, I don't want to wear my mask. I'm going to work from home now.' It's just going to hurt us," said Rovner.

However, Darren Mareiniss, an emergency physician and infectious disease expert at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, part of Jefferson Health, said wearing masks could help businesses.

"They are actually here to prevent an increase of disease in the community, which would benefit business," said Mareiniss. "It's best in these situations to get ahead of the curve to stem the spread of disease in the community as quickly as possible when you see a rise."

She says other major cities could follow Philadelphia's lead by reinstating their mask mandates.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.