In response to rising cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia, partly due to the Delta variant, the City of Philadelphia has updated its mask requirements in the city. The following clarification was prepared by GBCA member John Adams Law LLC.


Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, August 12, 2021, Philadelphia imposed the following new mask requirements:

  • Masks will be required at all Philadelphia businesses and institutions that do not require vaccination for employees and patrons (including indoor construction projects which do not have a vaccination requirement).
  • Masks will also be required at all outdoor, unseated gatherings of more than 1,000 people (which apparently does not apply to seated sporting events).
  • Indoor dining will be allowed to continue in the following cases:
    • In restaurants that require proof of vaccination, and
    • In restaurants that do not require proof of vaccination, provided that masks are worn by patrons and staff the entire time while not seated and eating or drinking.


As a reminder, the EEOC has stated that an employer may generally require employees to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine; however, there are three exceptions.  The first is if the employee is in a union and the employer has signed a collective bargaining agreement with that union.  Because requiring vaccinations would likely be a term and condition of employment, a unionized employer would likely need to negotiate with the union over this issue.   That being said, if you are a union contractor, and a higher tier contractor or the owner requires workers on the project to be vaccinated to be on the project, your union employee would not be able to work on the project unless they are vaccinated.  If you have no other work for him/her, you can send them back to the Hiring Hall or lay them off.  Under this new Philadelphia Mask requirement, masks will be required on construction projects unless the Owner or GC/CM imposes a vaccination mandate on the project.

Because of the foregoing requirement to negotiate with the union, a unionized employer can require non-union employees to be vaccinated while not requiring union employees to be vaccinated.

In addition, it does not violate HIPAA to require employees to show a vaccination card.  The HIPAA Privacy Rule regulates the use and disclosure of Private Health Information held by “covered entities” (generally, health care clearinghouses, employer-sponsored health plans, health insurers, and medical service providers that engage in certain transactions).  Construction contractors, like most employers, are not a “covered entity”, and therefore, HIPAA does apply.  However, if you keep a copy of the card, you must keep the copy confidential.  The EEOC’s Technical Assistance Manual on the Employment Provisions of the ADA (issued in January, 1992) provides that an employer “should take steps to guarantee the security of the medical information”, including keeping the information “in a medical file in a separate, locked cabinet, apart from the location of personnel files” and restricting access to such files to a specific person or persons.

The other two (2) exceptions are for religious or disability reasons.  If you institute a vaccination requirement and an employee requests a religious or disability accommodation.  You will have to go through the interactive process to determine whether or not to grant the accommodation.