Philadelphia is easing some COVID-19 restrictions today: Here's what you need to know

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia officials announced that several restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eased on Monday as infection rates continue to fall and vaccination rates climb.

Among the announcements: some fans will be allowed to attend sporting events.

However, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the relaxed restrictions are dependent on consistent, universal mask use.

The city's health department says it is expecting a delivery of 13,000 Johnson & Johnson doses this week, and say it is feasible folks will be vaccinated with it in the coming days.

"I feel hopeful that things will get better and hopefully none of the variants kind of keep the vaccine from working," said Alicia Tucker of Roxborough.

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to Johnson and Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine, meaning within days, those shots could be going into arms.

As early as Monday, 3.9 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines are expected to ship out to states, pharmacies, and community clinics.

The FDA said J&J's vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents - protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.

Health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci warn that progress in declining case numbers is stalling and that we shouldn't be lifting restrictions just yet. He says everyone must continue wearing a mask.

Abul Azad, owner of King of Tandoor restaurant in Fairmount, said the city shouldn't be easing restrictions just yet. He fears it'll scare away cautious customers.

"People are not coming, some pick-up and some delivery," said Azad. "Delivery is very slow, small orders, that's why we survive very hardly."

The following goes into effect on Monday, March 1:

SPORTING EVENTS

-Gatherings will be allowed up to state limits

-2,500 total people for outdoor events, 500 total people for indoor events

"If the state relaxes its limits further, we'll consider if we want to match that," said Farley. "It's one step closer to us returning to normal."

This is good news for Phillies fans, considering Citizens Bank Park is an outdoor venue. The Phillies home opener is on April 1 and season tickets are advertised for sale.

However, fans won't be allowed inside the Wells Fargo Center for Sixers and Flyers games just yet.

The total number of people allowed includes not just fans, but staffers as well. The WFC said it requires more than 500 employees on-site for a game when fans are in attendance.

"We are in direct communication with city and state officials to determine when we can further increase our capacity and welcome fans back to the arena," said Valerie Camillo, President of Business Operations for the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center.

RESTAURANTS

-Up to 6 people allowed per table outdoors and they are not required to be from same household
-Current indoor capacity limits and requirements still apply

RETAIL STORES

-Increase to 20 people per 1000 square feet

SENIOR CENTERS

-Allowed to open, but everyone will have to wear K-N95 masks or double-mask
-No more than 25 people in any one room or group

THEATERS

-Allowed to serve food in movie theaters
-Groups no larger than 4

CATERED EVENTS

-Indoor catered events still prohibited
-Outdoor events limit increased to 100 people

RELIGIOUS SERVICES

-Increase to 20% capacity

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