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Philadelphia will reinstate its mask mandate after a rise in COVID cases

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

A major U.S. city is bringing back some COVID-fighting protocols.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHERYL BETTIGOLE: Today, I'm announcing that we're reintroducing the mask mandate in Philadelphia.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole says the highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant of Omicron and an average of 142 new COVID cases every day has them revisiting rules that were dropped just last month.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BETTIGOLE: 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. This is our chance to get ahead of the pandemic.

MARTINEZ: The restaurant industry is pushing back, though, saying the return of masks will hurt businesses and stall recovery. But Bettigole says they have to get a handle on fresh coronavirus cases now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BETTIGOLE: We do not believe that there's any reason to panic or to avoid activities we enjoy and that are important to us. By wearing masks consistently, we can continue to go about our daily lives and continue to take part in the life of our city without contributing to increasing transmission of COVID-19.

FADEL: Philadelphia schools, businesses, government buildings and restaurants have until next Monday to put back their mask-up signs.

(SOUNDBITE OF FORD FEAT. KNAPSACK'S "SLACK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.