City allows indoor dining, other activities to resume

by Kate Dolan
Posted 1/18/21

Indoor dining resumed in Philadelphia, Saturday January 16, as the city lifts a portion of the Safer at Home restrictions. Theaters can also reopen with a maximum occupancy of 10%.

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City allows indoor dining, other activities to resume

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Indoor dining resumed in Philadelphia, Saturday January 16, as the city lifts a portion of the Safer at Home restrictions.

“These restrictions went into effect on November 20. At that time, Philadelphia’s case rates were rising rapidly,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Since then, the case rates have fallen 33%. Our hospitals’ census — the number of patients with COVID in the hospitals — has fallen by a third from the peak.”

Restaurants must follow city requirements for opening their indoor dining rooms. Seating is limited to 25% of approved capacity. The maximum number of people at one table is four and all diners at each table must be members of the same household. Diners must wear masks at all times, except when seated and eating. Servers must wear masks and face shields.

“We will back off cautiously,” said Farley.

Improved ventilation for indoor dining areas is strongly encouraged. According to Farley, restaurants should aim for more outdoor air being circulated by their HVAC systems. A filter with a MERV rating of 13 or higher should be used and the system should allow for six or more exchanges of air per hour.

“To put it another way, the air changes over in the indoor side of the restaurant every ten minutes, on average,” said Farley. These are not requirements but they are strongly recommended as the city works on enhanced standards for indoor dining which will be required and announced in the future.

Theaters can also reopen with a maximum occupancy of 10%. Theatergoers must wear masks at all times and venues will not be allowed to serve food or drinks. Colleges can also open for in-person instruction.

Indoor catered events and social gatherings of any size continue to be prohibited as part of the restrictions.

“This, we think, is the primary way that the virus is spreading right now,” said Farley.

Detailed guidance is available at Phila.gov/covid

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