As coronavirus case numbers recede and the layers of restrictions peel away, people are approaching the post-lockdown world with a mixture of exuberance and trepidation. Pools and recreation centers are open again. The 76ers are playing to full houses, and Citizens Bank Park is open to full capacity (although judging from the Phillies’ paltry crowds, maybe no one told the fans), and, yes, many people are exposing their entire faces again; mouths, chins, everything. Yet this “raw happiness,” a psychiatrist warns, has a potent rival — anxiety.

— Anthony R. Wood (@woodt15, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know:

😷 Effective Friday, for the fully vaccinated, Philadelphia is lifting its indoor mask mandate. The city’s mandate of 11 p.m. last call for restaurants will also end.

💉 Get a shot, and you might win $50,000! Philly is raising the ante on vaccine incentives with the “Philly Vax Sweepstakes.”

🏥 COVID-19 case numbers are dropping in the Philly suburbs. Philly’s collar counties were among the top 10 for case decreases in the state, according to an Inquirer analysis.

🏊 Pools and camps are back, and Philly is playing again. Here’s how Philly recreation is reopening.

💰As arts groups try to rebound, Chicago and other cities have put the arts at the center of post-pandemic planning. But in Philly, proposed city budgeting is less ambitious.

📰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.

With Philly’s reopening, the mundane is fun again

While perhaps not quite festive, the region’s reopening has stoked a sense of optimism painfully absent from the pervious 15 months, back before the shadows of the coronavirus crossed the region and the nation. “It just seems like I’m seeing raw happiness out there,” said Ceallaigh Corbishley, 31, manager and bartender at the International Bar in Kensington. “People are probably hugging more than before COVID.”

That’s all well and good, said Lise Van Susteren, a Washington psychiatrist, but this is going to take some getting used to. “For many, anxiety is still high as the ceiling,” she said. “The idea of going out, getting close to people, can be a very steep climb.” And for people of color, the excitement is “bittersweet.” For Asian Americans, who have been attacked on city streets, including Philadelphia, the yellow whistle has been the clarion call of public safety.

Pet ownership soared during the pandemic. Veterinarians are ready for a break

Among the health-care workers who have been been feeling the pandemic fallout are veterinarians. In the last year, 11.38 million households in the United States got pets during the pandemic, according to the American Pet Products Association. And while the pet population grew, “the veterinarian population did not,” said Scott Neabore, who has a practice in Haddonfield. His schedule is fully booked with surgeries until autumn. “Now we’re trying to play catch-up,” he said.

Helpful resources

You got this: Dining out again

Inquirer restaurant critic Craig Laban held off on writing reviews, and assigning his signature bells, for 15 months. Instead he has focused on how restaurants simply struggled to survive the pandemic. But the dining universe is coming back to life. So, he wonders, when would it be fair, ethical, appropriate to return to the task of holding restaurants to a consistently high standard? At some point, the bells will ring again. But when?

💻 One Philly school kept kids engaged through a long year of virtual learning. Here’s how.

🥾 It’s no “Shore” thing, but the Poconos offer everything from museums, to boating to hiking.

🇺🇸 Looking to entertain the kids? Here are some options, including a circus and Flag Fest.

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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