The city of Philadelphia on Wednesday announced a new mask mandate and upcoming new policies designed to tackle COVID-19 as the Delta variant and vaccine reluctance campaigns continue to drive up positivity rates in the city and surrounding states.
What will be the potential impact of the new restrictions on sports teams in the region?
Mayor Jim Kenney clarified in a tweet Wednesday morning that the mask’s tenure impacts outdoor events, but only events without a seat:
This is great news for Eagles and Phillies fans, as is this exchange between David Malandra Jr. of Philly Sports Network, Kenney and Bettigole during Wednesday’s press conference:
“MALANDRA: At the moment, there are no plans to have this for outdoor events, say like the Eagles or the Phillies games?
“KENNEY: At the moment – unless, Doc, you want to correct me – at the moment, no.
“BETTIGOLE: For the moment, no.”
Eagles announced after the press conference that, in accordance with the city’s new policies and mandates, fans and staff will be required to wear masks when visiting the Linc’s interior spaces, but not when sitting or standing in the exterior spaces.
So it looks like, at least for now, teams playing outdoor games shouldn’t change much to limit attendance.
The Phillies opened Citizens Bank Park to full capacity in mid-May.
The Phillies play 14 home games in September and are the first in the NL East since Aug. 11, which means they could play more home games in a possible playoff series. The Eagles open the preseason Thursday against the Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field, and between the preseason and the regular season, they will play nine home games at the Linc between Wednesday and the end of 2021.
At this time, it’s unclear exactly how these new restrictions would impact the Sixers or Flyers games. The Flyers open their preseason on September 28. The Sixers haven’t announced their preseason schedule, but they are expected to face the Nets in a preseason home game on October 11.
Public health officials in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Philadelphia say positive tests now account for more than 5% of all COVID-19 test results.
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr Cheryl Bettigole said the city is enacting a new mandate on masks, which will take effect Wednesday night at midnight.
“This means everyone in Philadelphia must wear a mask when entering a business or institution, except those who require vaccinations,” Bettigole said. “Restaurants will have to require masks for customers and staff, except when people are sitting and actively eating and drinking. If a business or institution requires everyone, including staff, to be fully immunized before entering , then no one there needs to wear a mask. “
For more information on the new restrictions, go here to read coverage from NBC Philadelphia.