Philly residents, businesses welcome the warm weather

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After months of brutal cold, the warm temperatures have finally arrived for Philadelphians.

As the coronavirus continues to take its toll on restaurants a year after the lockdown first began, business owners see the warm weather as a lifeline.

Residents see the temperatures as an excuse to get out of the house.

"It's fantastic," said Javier Perez of Callowhill. "Woke up feeling great, put on my tiny shorts, feeling good about it."

For restaurants within the City of Philadelphia, restrictions have been difficult for business owners. Unlike the suburbs, city restaurants can only operate at 25% capacity for indoor dining.

If they meet strict ventilation requirements, they can expand to 50%.

However, many restaurant owners say it's too expensive or too impossible to meet, so they're waiting until spring.

"There are some tough days, there are some good days, but overall, they went very hard, I believe, on restaurants," said Northern Liberties Cafe La Maude owner Gabi Richan. "They went too hard on us. There are so many other stores, so many other places they didn't go as hard as they should have and all these little places. It's very hard on small businesses."

The city says it has approved 106 out of the 139 applications it received for 50% indoor dining expansion, with five applications still pending. The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association says things are looking up.

"Between the warm weather, all the grants that are going to be available for these restaurant operators, and the vaccines that are being performed right now, I really think there's hope on the horizon," said Ben Fileccia of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association.

And in the suburbs, the borough of Media is closing State Street on Wednesday evenings to allow for outdoor dining. It kicks off Wednesday and will last the rest of the year.

Under the PA COVID-19 hospitality industry recovery program (CHIRP), $17 million is available to eligible Philadelphia hospitality businesses.
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