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Philadelphia Mask Mandate Comes with a Caveat for Conventions

Two large medical shows are using the Pennsylvania Convention Center within the next month, but requiring proof of vaccination would relieve them of enforcing a renewed mask mandate within their own space.

Last week’s announcement by the Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole that, effective April 18, masks must be worn in hotels, restaurants, shops, and other indoor public places, will likely affect two conventions and exhibitions as well as other public events coming to the Pennsylvania Convention Center between now and late May.

First, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons is set to hold AANS 2022 in the facility from April 29 to May 2, with as many as 7,000 participants. But while the mask mandate will require attendees and exhibitors to wear masks while in the Philadelphia airport, in their hotel, in restaurants, and elsewhere in public, show management doesn’t necessarily have to require masks in their educational sessions, in their prefunction areas, and on the exhibit floor. The reason: the health commissioner’s rule makes an exception to the mask mandate for businesses that require proof of vaccination to enter their spaces. According to the AANS 2022 website, attendees must be vaccinated to attend the conference.

On April 18, an employee on the convention-sales team at Pennsylvania Convention Center told MeetingsNet that for event groups using the facility that require proof of vaccination for all participants, the mask mandate will only apply in public areas the meeting host does not exclusively control. “It’s up to each event whether they want to require masks in their own spaces,” the employee said.

The other large business gathering soon to take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center is CPhI North America, a pharmaceutical-industry event that could draw as many as 8,000 attendees from May 17 to 19. According to the event website, show owner Informa Markets will not require participants to present proof of vaccination to attend. And according to the set of health-and-safety protocols the show uses—known as Informa AllSecure—“participants and staff at all Informa events will be asked to use items of personal protective equipment in line with local government and health authority advice. This may include wearing a face covering and the use of gloves or face screens in certain roles.”

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