People in Philadelphia could be excused if they felt a sense of whiplash Friday as the city abandoned its indoor mask mandate just days after becoming the first big U.S. city to reimpose compulsory masking in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The city had taken plenty of heat for the renewed masking order, with two of the three leading Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat expressing opposition to it at a debate Thursday night.

The restaurant industry complained that workers would bear the brunt of customer anger over the new rules, while several businesses and residents filed suit in state court to get it thrown out. Few masks were worn at a Philadelphia 76ers’ home playoff game this week.

City officials insisted their decision to rescind the mandate just days after it had gone into effect on Monday was based on the numbers, even though daily fluctuations are common.

Hospitalizations peaked at 82 on Sunday and have since drifted down, to 65 on Thursday, according to the Department of Public Health. New confirmed infections reached a peak of 377 on April 14 but have since leveled off.

“People responded by being careful even prior to the mandate, and so we believe that a strong recommendation is adequate rather than a mandate at this stage of the pandemic,” she said.

Bettigole and the city’s managing director were scheduled to hold a news conference on the rescinded mask mandate Friday morning.

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Sourse: abcnews.go.com

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