City announces venue limits as Covid case counts rise

by Kate Dolan
Posted 10/19/20

After reviewing Governor Wolf’s new event size limits for Pennsylvania, Philadelphia announced its new limits which will be more restrictive than the Governor’s, due to the “unique …

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City announces venue limits as Covid case counts rise

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After reviewing Governor Wolf’s new event size limits for Pennsylvania, Philadelphia announced its new limits which will be more restrictive than the Governor’s, due to the “unique risks” and many large venues found in the city.

“Of all the counties, in Philadelphia, we are the hardest hit with Covidand our case rates are rising right now,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “We will be more restrictive in the city limits than is allowed by the commonwealth."

The city will change how it determines event size limits, in accordance with the Governor’s updated COVID-19 gathering limits. The limit amount will now be based on the size of the venue rather than a fixed number and Philadelphia is allowing a lower percentage of maximum occupancy than the state.

For indoor events in the city, a venue will be allowed to accommodate 10% of its maximum occupancy, with a maximum capacity of 250 people. For outdoor events, a venue with a maximum occupancy of 2,000 people or less will be allowed 20% of their maximum capacity. Outdoor venues with a maximum occupancy of 2,000 or more will be allowed to accommodate 15% of their maximum capacity with a cap of 7,500 persons.

The changes take effect Friday, October 16 and the size limits include venue staff, performers, athletes and coaches. Food and drink are still prohibited in venues.

Farley acknowledged that this modification to establishing event size limits is more confining in some cases than the fixed limit rule that has been in place for months.

 “Know that for most venues that are smaller, this rule is actually more restrictive than the previous rule,” said Farley at last Tuesday’s Covid-19 update press conference. “A space that has a maximum occupancy of 150 can host no more than 15 people.” 

“This, we hope, will help in preventing the problem of social gatherings of 25 people that are occurring in small spaces,” he said, and reminded residents that contact tracing is revealing that most COVID-19 spread is occurring not at public events, but at small gatherings among close friends and family members.

Governor Wolf announced changes to the commonwealth’s guidelines on October 6. Outside Philadelphia city limits, 20% maximum capacity is allowed at indoor venues with a maximum occupancy of less than 2,000. For indoor venues with a between 2,000 and 10,000 occupancy, 15% capacity is allowed and 10% is allowed at any indoor venue with a maximum occupancy of over 10,000 with a cap of 3,750 people.

Outdoor events outside of Philly will allow 25% maximum capacity at venues with an occupancy of less than 2,000, 20% maximum capacity for venues with a 2,001-10,001 occupancy, and for those outdoor venues that allow 10,000 people or more, 15% maximum capacity is permitted with a cap of 7,500 persons.

These changes take place as Philadelphia cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. On Friday, 302 confirmed cases were reported. This daily spike is attributed to the larger than normal test results received — a total of 5,728 tests.

The total number of confirmed cases in the city since the beginning of the pandemic is 39,822 and the total number of Philadelphia residents who have died is 1,840.

For safety guidelines, event size limits and more information about Covid-19, visit phila.gov/programs/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

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Monday, October 19