When will Philadelphia ease more COVID restrictions? Here's what we know

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Philly officials say they won't lift restrictions as fast as Pa.
Philly officials say they won't lift restrictions as fast as Pa.

PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that all COVID-19 restrictions except mask-wearing will be lifted on Memorial Day, but officials in Philadelphia said not so fast.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the City of Philadelphia will ease restrictions when city leaders say it's time to.

"We're going to review the New Jersey policy, the Pennsylvania policy, and we'll consider a local policy in light of that. We will announce that later," Farley said Tuesday.

SEE ALSO: Pennsylvania to lift COVID mitigation orders, except masking, on Memorial Day

This means capacity restrictions on bars, restaurants and indoor and outdoor gatherings will go away on May 31.

On Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that the state will lift many COVID-19 capacity limits at retail stores, restaurants, gyms and other businesses, and will remove a hard cap on outdoor gatherings beginning May 19.

And in Delaware, Governor John Carney plans to lift capacity limits at businesses and places of worship, and scale down social distancing to three feet. The changes go into effect on May 21.

Health Commissioner Dr. Farley discusses when Philadelphia could ease more COVID restrictions.

As announced last week, the City of Philadelphia will be loosening certain restrictions on Friday, May 7.

For indoor dining

  • Capacity will be increased from 25%, or 50% if restaurants meet enhanced ventilation standards, to 50%, or 75% if restaurants meet enhanced ventilation standards.
  • There still needs to be a minimum of six-foot distance from chair back to chair back
  • Maximum table size will be increased from four to six, and there is no longer a requirement that everyone at the table be from the same household.

For outdoor dining

  • Maximum table size will be increased to 10, which is the state limit.

For indoor catered events

  • Important to remember that events like indoor weddings are the highest risk.
  • For the first time in more than a year, the City will allow indoor catered social events up to 25% occupancy of space with a cap of 75 persons total.
  • If case rates continue to fall, the City may increase that cap to 150 beginning Friday, May 21.

Other gatherings and events

  • Indoor gatherings and events will be able to increase their maximum capacity to 25% of normal capacity and outdoor gatherings and events will be able to increase maximum capacity to 50%.

Masks are still required across the region. In Pennsylvania, however, masking will continue until 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated, Governor Wolf says.

"I do want to issue this warning," Farley said. "Everyone wants this epidemic to end, but this epidemic is not over yet. We have more than 100 people being hospitalized and 50 people dying each week now. We are making great strides, but only about a third of adults are fully vaccinated...we are still vulnerable to future waves of the epidemic. I don't want to see anyone die unnecessarily. So what should everyone do? Get vaccinated, number one...and continue to wear your mask."