PA COVID: Philadelphia officials to discuss new COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday
Officials will discuss new COVID-19 restrictions during a briefing with the city’s health department on Wednesday morning.
According to the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, the city will soon require businesses to mandate vaccines for all customers and employees indoors. If the business prefers not to adopt that policy, they must require customers and employees to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
As of now, Spoonie O’Neal, owner of O’Neals Pub on the corner of South and 3rd streets, doesn’t require a mask and doesn’t check for a COVID-19 vaccine. But as new restrictions loom, he’s preparing to change that.
“It’s not going away, it’s getting worse. We have to do something,” he says.
O’Neal says he leaning towards everyone masking up again because he just doesn’t want to go through the hassle of making customers prove they’re vaccinated.
On Tuesday, City Council President Darrell Clarke announced that Council members and staff will be required to be vaccinated before the upcoming fall session.
“We understand the importance of Council returning to live Meetings and hearings after more than a year of conducting the people’s business remotely,” said Council President Clarke. “The public has a right to see and participate in the business of their City Council. At the same time, we must balance that right with public health and safety. With the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant, we must act to protect the public and Council. That’s why we are requiring that all Council employees be vaccinated.”
The decision comes as the delta variant of COVID-19 is leading to a surge in cases across the tri-state area.
Council members and staff can request to be exempt due to religious or medical reasons. Those who are unable to be vaccinated will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 tests.
“We will ensure when we go back to in-person session and meetings and hearings on September the 16th that we will make sure the public and employees are safe,” said Councilwoman Cherelle Parker.
The first City Council meeting of the fall session is set to take place in person on September 16.
According to city officials, Philadelphia is currently averaging 180 new cases of COVID-19 per day. Just over 63% of Philadelphia adults are fully vaccinated, and 77% of adults have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf also announced that 25,000 employees of Commonwealth’s prisons and state health care and congregate care facilities have about a month to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or take weekly tests for the virus.
Wolf said workers in those jobs – and all new hires at those facilities – have until Sept. 7 to get fully vaccinated.
The state Health Department said this week that 63.8% of adult state residents are fully vaccinated, although there were nearly 4,100 positive cases over a recent three-day stretch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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