As Philadelphia eases COVID-19 restrictions, city prepares for events and tourists

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With lots of sunshine and more relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, Philadelphia felt its first sense of normalcy since last March.

"Oh, I'm very hopeful," said Heather Conant of Egg Harbor Township. "I got the vaccine. I look forward to my daughter getting it next week."

On Friday, hundreds gathered along the Schuylkill River to cheer on participants in the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, one of the city health department's first approved public events.

"I've definitely missed doing things as a team and being able to come and race because we haven't raced in a while and we're finally getting to race again," said Charlotte Lucas of Haddonfield. "It's really fun."

The city is also seeing its tourism numbers improve. At the Element Hotel opening in Center City, Mayor Jim Kenney said the city's hotel occupancy and revenue are steadily bouncing back.

"Tourism is about so much more than just visitation. Tourism is about creating jobs for residents, generating tax revenue that can fund critical city services," said Kenney.

The city will relax many COVID restrictions on May 21 and will fully reopen on June 11. The health department has not shared any decision regarding the relaxation of masks.

Starting Friday through Sunday, for the next four weekends, the 200 and 700 blocks of South Street will be closed to traffic to allow more outdoor dining.

"I'm very optimistic that this is the light at the end of the tunnel," said Doug Hager, owner of Brauhaus Schmitz. "So as every layer of this onion peels off and we get back to business as usual it's super exciting. It almost feels like I'm opening a new restaurant again."
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.