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Mask mandates are under attack and unenforced | Morning Newsletter

And Afghan evacuees expected at the Philly airport as soon as Friday.

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Happy Friday, and welcome to The Inquirer Morning Newsletter. We are one step closer to the weekend but before we put our feet up and relax, let’s take a look at what’s happening around us.

First: From schools to restaurants to concert venues, people aren’t too happy about needing to wear a mask indoors around Philly — but for the most part, it doesn’t actually look as if the city’s mandate is being enforced.

Then: We follow up with ex-MOVE members who are alleging mental and physical abuse within the organization.

And: Hundreds of evacuees fleeing Afghanistan are expected to arrive this weekend at Philadelphia International Airport. Here’s the latest news coming out of Afghanistan, where two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul’s airport Thursday.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Send us a reply, and let’s start a conversation.

— Sam Ruland (@sam_ruland,

Philadelphia’s latest imposition of COVID-19 restrictions means everyone must wear a mask indoors, unless a business requires all staff and patrons to be vaccinated. But the city isn’t tracking which businesses require vaccinations, and inspections for mask enforcement or vaccine checks are scarce.

Food establishments are checked for COVID-19 compliance as part of regular food inspections, but otherwise, the inspection systems is complaint-based. Businesses have largely been responsible for enforcement throughout the pandemic, with relatively little oversight or tracking — and the latest iteration of the mask mandate is no different.

Since Philadelphia’s new mask mandate took effect, at least 102 complaints have been filed through the city’s 311 line. Officials can’t say how many violations have been found, warnings have been issued, or even the number of complaints it investigated. They say they don’t keep count, and that any inspection reports regarding mask compliance end up funneled into its cumbersome, restaurant inspection database, alongside complaints about cockroaches and filthy restrooms.

“There’s just a growing indifference toward some of these mandates,” said Jabari Jones, president of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, “because it’s like, ‘Dude, how am I supposed to catch up with all this stuff if you keep changing the rules without any notice or advance conversation with the business community?’”

Reporter Laura McCrystal has the full story.

The September anniversary of the execution-style shooting of former MOVE supporter John Gilbride often passes in silence, but a new podcast digging into the nearly 19-year-old mystery has unearthed new allegations about the West Philadelphia Black liberation group.

More than a half-dozen ex-MOVE members have gone on the record in both the Murder at Ryan’s Run podcast and a blog called Leaving MOVE 2021, alleging physical and mental abuse in MOVE, rampant homophobia and colorism, and what they describe as a manipulation of the public and the media.

All of the accusers The Inquirer interviewed placed much of the blame on Alberta “Bert” Africa, the former wife of MOVE founder John Africa, and ex-wife of John Gilbride; and on Sue “Ria” Africa, whose son was killed in the 1985 bombing.

Read more about the allegations and the survivors from reporter Jason Nark.

Reopening resources

  1. Some people are changing their minds about the coronavirus vaccine. Here’s how doctors persuaded them.

  2. Here is a full list of restaurants, large performance venues, universities, and gyms in the Philly region where you need to show proof of vaccination.

  3. Should you laminate your vaccination card? What if you lose it? Here are the dos and don’ts.

What you need to know today

  1. The Broad Street Run will require proof of vaccination for all runners.

  2. An explosion went off outside the Kabul airport Thursday morning, killing 60 Afghans and 12 U.S. troops, as the U.S. scrambles to evacuate as many as 1,500 more Americans out of Afghanistan, amid reports that the evacuation could end sooner than planned. Meanwhile, world affairs columnist Trudy Rubin shares what it took to get one Afghan woman activist evacuated and why another is still in hiding in Kabul.

  3. The elusive Fairmount Park rapist” was back in the news Thursday when police released new composite sketches showing the never-identified suspect who has eluded capture for nearly two decades. Investigators hope the sketches may help spur renewed interest in the cold case.

  4. A drug used to treat parasites in large animals is the latest quack remedy being taken and touted by anti-vaxxers. Here’s why you should not use ivermectin or other unproven COVID-19 remedies instead of getting vaccinated.

  5. Few school districts are requiring masks in classrooms, something Gov. Tom Wolf said is needed to ensure safety. GOP leaders are rejecting that idea, saying those decisions are best left to local communities.

  6. Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins returns to the 10-day injured list and will have season-ending surgery just four days after a return from his strained groin. No bueno.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Can I just say this sunset is tie-dye for! Thanks for sharing it with us, @urphillypal.

Tag your Instagram posts with #OurPhilly, and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature here and give you a shout-out.

That's interesting

🗳️ At first, the state’s top Senate Republican, Jake Corman, walked a fine line as his pro-Trump colleagues denied the 2020 election results. Now he’s all in.

😬 Philly Proud Boys president Zach Rehl is being sued by Capitol police who blame him, former President Donald Trump, and other extremist groups for injuries they sustained repelling the riot.

🇺🇸 Labor Day is fast-approaching, and that means so is Made in America. Going to the festival? Here’s what to expect, including COVID-19 precautions, how to get to there and more.


“This is where I suddenly wish Krasner still had that infamous ponytail so Kenney could just pull it and call it a day. And then, we could put our energy where it belongs: the city’s soaring gun violence. ... Anything else is a slap in the face to the people who have lost a loved one to gun violence or worry that one day they will,” writes columnist Helen Ubiñas.

  1. A year ago, Tiffaney Flynn tried to help Karen Robinson through the unimaginable pain of her daughter Jasmine’s being hit by a stray bullet while driving. A year later, Tiffaney Flynn was the one who needed comforting after her own daughter was shot multiple times last week while sitting in a car outside a ShopRite. This weekend, the two mothers will come together to stage a ride/march to demand justice for their daughters.

  2. “I’m so exhausted by every COVID parenting decision I have to make.” A pediatrician and parent writes about the decision fatigued parents face amid the delta phase of COVID-19 and the confusing — or hands-off — guidance from officials on how to navigate it.

What we're reading

  1. A new survey finds that more than 1 in 4 college athletes reported being sexually assaulted or harassed by someone in a position of power on campus. USA Today takes a deep dive into those findings.

  2. An antiques collector converted a former ice house into an airy two-story home with a rose garden. Take a peek inside and you’ll see why it’s one of the “coolest” houses in South Philly.

Photo of the Day

Um, excuse me — is it lunchtime yet? 🤤