Several Philadelphia businesses and residents have grouped together in order to sue the city’s top officials over the newly reinstated indoor mask mandate, which went into effect on Monday.
The lawsuit was filed on Saturday, in which the plaintiffs argued that Philadelphia alone does not have the power to enforce the indoor mask mandate.
The plaintiffs went on to say that the order breaches the state’s constitution and goes against other recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The suit was filed in commonwealth court and names Democratic Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole, acting Pennsylvania Health Department Secretary Keara Klinepeter, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health as defendants.
The plaintiffs are hoping to overturn the mask mandate by filing the suit.
“The previously mentioned actions of the Respondents have usurped the role of the Acting Secretary and State Health Advisory Board in the adoption of standards applicable to disease control in Pennsylvania,” says an amended petition that was filed on Monday.
“As further evidence of the arbitrary and capricious nature of the adoption of the Emergency Order it is clear that Philadelphia has rejected the guidance and/or direction of the Center for Disease Control the leading agency in the United States responsible for the promulgation of health regulations, despite the fact that Philadelphia for most of the pandemic, touted its compliance with CDC directives,” it continues.
The city has argued that the order was necessary due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, adding that the mandate would be ended when two out of three metrics in the All Clear Level are met.
Philadelphia is so far the only city that has brought back any kind of masking requirement in response to increasing cases due to the BA.2 subvariant of the COVID-19 omicron variant.
Kevin Lessard, the communications director for Mayor Kenney, said that the office is currently “unable to comment on this particular case,” but he noted specifically that “the City was successful in litigation related to the mask mandate just this past Thursday.”
He added, “On Thursday, upon challenge to the order mandating the return of masks in certain indoor spaces, 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.”