The City of Philadelphia is facing a lawsuit challenging last week’s reinstatement of the indoor mask mandate.
The city announced on Monday that the mandate would be reinstated due to rising coronavirus cases, becoming the first major U.S. city to do so. However, the announcement quickly drew some criticism.
A lawsuit filed in state court on Saturday is now seeking to overturn the renewed mask mandate.
Attorney Thomas W. King III argued that the city’s rules go against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations and “imposed a renegade standard unfound anywhere else in the world,” the Associated Press reported.
The argument being used is that the city lacks the authority to impose the mandate.
The lawsuit, filed in Commonwealth Court on Saturday, said Philadelphia lacks the authority to impose such a mandate.
Philadelphia earlier this week became the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate after reporting a sharp increase in coronavirus infections, with the city’s top health official saying she wanted to forestall a potential new wave driven by an omicron subvariant.
…The suit accuses city health officials of having “usurped the power and authority” of state lawmakers, the state department of health and the state advisory health board.
Kevin Lessard, communications director of the Philadelphia mayor’s office, said officials were “unable to comment on this particular case” but cited a court’s denial of an emergency motion by another plaintiff for a preliminary injunction against the mandate. Lessard said “the courts once again confirmed that city has both the legal authority and requisite flexibility to enact the precautionary measures necessary to control the spread of COVID-19.”
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole blamed the rise in COVID cases as the reason to renew the mask requirements for indoor public spaces.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen more than 50% in 10 days. This has prompted the city to move to Level 2: Mask Precautions, requiring masks in indoor public places.
Petitioners say the city eliminated the CDC as the source of standards for masking in Philadelphia and imposed what they call a renegade standard.
The restaurant industry pushed back against the mandate, saying workers will bear the brunt of customer anger over the new rules.
“The citizens bringing this action today have had enough of Philadelphia acting in a way contrary to the rest of the world. Philadelphia is required, like everyone else, to comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. No one is above the law,” said Thomas W. King, III, Esq., Attorney for the petitioners.
This decision is likely to have consequences that last longer than the next “wave” of covid.
Philadelphia’s decision to reimplement a mask mandate has grave consequences for the Democratic Party. A clear willingness to impose indefinite Covid restrictions pushes millions of voters locally & nationally towards Republicans & guarantees Pennsylvania, a swing state, goes Red
— Eli Klein (@TheEliKlein) April 12, 2022
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