The gist: Friday marked the first day in nearly 15 months that mask-wearing was no longer required indoors in most places in Philadelphia. Gym goers welcomed the change, but in other Center City businesses, such as Reading Terminal Market, shoppers donned masks out of cautious skepticism or respect for others. Masked or not, Pennsylvania adults and teens are wading back into the world as the state’s vaccination rates rise, and case rates fall. But uncertainty and anxiety remain for many, including children under age 12, who can’t get the vaccine, and their parents.

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know:

😔 For Philadelphians worrying about loved ones in other countries, where infections rage and vaccine access varies, the pandemic reopening isn’t all joyful.

👩‍🏫 COVID-19 challenged schools in ways no one could have imagined. The Inquirer asked a group of educators, parents, and students to share the lessons from this pandemic school year. Here’s what they said.

🏢 As Philadelphia employers begin bringing employees back into offices, boosting mental health resources — like Employee Assistance Programs and access to meditation apps — is top of mind.

💉 Novavax says its vaccine is about 90% effective against COVID-19 and also protects against variants, potentially offering the world welcome news at a time when developing countries are desperate for doses.

🦷 As the pandemic wanes, Pennsylvania dental offices are struggling, finding themselves understaffed and financially stressed just as patients are clamoring for appointments.

📰What’s going on in your county or neighborhood? We organize recent coverage of the pandemic by local counties and Philly neighborhoods to make it easier for you to find info you care about. Sign up here to get those local headlines sent directly to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Local coronavirus numbers

📈The Inquirer and Spotlight PA are compiling geographic data on confirmed coronavirus cases, deaths caused by the virus, and vaccinations to curb the spread. Track the latest data here.

Parents grapple with protecting kids who can’t get a COVID-19 vaccine as the Philadelphia region reopens

Vaccines could be approved for children under 12 as early as the fall. But until then, pediatricians and public health experts said a small risk remains for unvaccinated kids, especially if they interact with other unvaccinated people without taking precautions. That reality can leave parents, many fully vaccinated themselves, with difficult decisions about how much to immerse their family in the reopened region after more than a year of restrictions. Experts recommend children ages 2 to 12 continue to wear masks in public, at gatherings, and in indoor spaces outside the home, especially when others in the room may be unvaccinated, and to opt for outdoor activities when possible. Read more expert advice here.

Philly’s bar scene is back as coronavirus restrictions lift, but to-go cocktails are no more

As the final remnants of Philadelphia’s coronavirus restrictions for bars lifted last weekend, crowds of revelers packed into dives, taverns, lounges, and taprooms eager to celebrate. Gone were masks indoors. Back were 2 a.m. last calls. “It feels like New Year’s Eve,” one Fishtown bar owner said. But for the restaurant industry, the celebrations were short lived. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced Tuesday it was immediately banning the sale of cocktails to-go and requiring establishments to file an emergency permit to serve alcohol in curbside streeteries. The new rules came as a shock to most restaurant and bar owners. “Not being able to sell drinks to go will certainly hurt our revenue. It was popular, and we had done a lot of work with packaging,” said Joe Beckham, owner of three Loco Pez Mexican-themed restaurants in Philly.

Helpful resources

You got this: Celebrate dad

June 20 is Father’s Day and it’s the first since 2019 where we can (safely) honor dads, grandfathers, uncles, and father figures. So: It’s time to celebrate. Whether you want to take a day trip to the Poconos, treat dad to some BBQ, or get him a thoughtful gift, we’ve got you covered with this Father’s Day guide.

🍺 The best craft breweries to visit while vacationing down the Shore this summer.

🏳️‍🌈 Before Stonewall, LGBTQ history was made at Bucks County Community College.

🌲 From “kidchella” to enchanted woods, here are the best kids events in Philly this week.

Have a social distancing tip or question to share? Let us know at health@inquirer.com and your input might be featured in a future edition of this newsletter.

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