Philly restaurant coalition pushing to help modify city's plan for 50% indoor dining

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A coalition of hundreds of restaurants is planning to ask the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to revise its new guidelines on increasing indoor dining to 50% capacity.

Some restaurant owners said it's nearly impossible to meet the new requirements, which go into effect on Friday.

"It's almost like the city gave us a box of chocolates and then took it away and put it in a drawer right before Valentine's Day and we can't touch it," said restaurant owner Nicole Marquis.

Marquis is also the founder of Save Philly Restaurants, a coalition of nearly 300 restaurants in the city.

She said she appreciates the city's efforts to allow 50% capacity limits on indoor dining, but believes the process is happening too late to make money this weekend.

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia restaurants that meet new ventilation standards can up indoor dining capacity to 50%
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Philadelphia health officials announced that restaurants that meet new ventilation standards can up their indoor dining capacity to 50% beginning Friday.

"It's frustrating that we're just days away from Valentine's Day, the biggest holiday for restaurants in the entire year and we can't take advantage of that revenue source," Marquis said.

Some owners said the spreadsheet to calculate airflow is confusing and, in some cases, will require a professional HVAC company, which is an added expense.

"Most restaurants are upset right now because the form and the application and the standards are confusing, and maybe expensive," Marquis said.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said he believes the plan will take the city in the right direction.

"We do think this is a way to try to have restaurants to get back on their feet economically and to try to come up with that balance," Farley said.

Marquis said she'll be working to convince the city that national guidelines could help create a better balance.

"We would never ask our employees to work in an unsafe environment and the CDC guidelines to safely reopen, we believe, is the right way to go," Marquis said.

For now, many owners who said they likely won't meet the guidelines will rely mainly on outdoor dining and stick with 25% indoor capacity ahead of Valentine's Day weekend.
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