Philadelphia gyms, restaurants anxious over new COVID-19 restrictions

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia officials announced sweeping new restrictions on Monday as COVID-19 cases spiral out of control.

The city is banning indoor gatherings of any size, public or private, and is prohibiting indoor dining at restaurants.

The city will also shutter casinos, gyms, museums and libraries, pause in-person instruction at colleges and high schools, and reduce occupancy at stores and religious institutions.

"I feel sorry for the economy, but what's more important: lives or the economy? Because if you're dead, or you're sick, you're not going to need money or the economy," said Patricia Sullivan of Overbrook.

The restrictions begin November 20 and will continue until January 1, 2021.

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Business owners impacted by the announcement are now very anxious about what the future holds.

"I think this neighborhood, they're complying with everything, so it's not necessary to close everyone down," said Chris Koutroubas, manager and chef of Little Pete's Restaurant in Fairmount. "They have to look at the restaurants that are packing them in or they're not following the guidance. Why punish everybody for some bad apples?"

Outdoor dining will be allowed, but parties have to be from the same household with a maximum table size of four.

Restaurant owners are sounding the alarm on the domino effect this will have.

"It is utter chaos," said Nicole Marquis, organizer of the Save Philly Restaurants Coalition. "We believe we are going to see a worse wave of business closures this time than we have so far because we used all of our resources to get through the summer."

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Dr. Farley announced indoor exercise will also be prohibited. Small gym owners like Jim Pfromm of Breaking Point Fitness in Manayunk said they're still recovering from the first lockdown.

"My first feeling was frustration for sure, and then also the unknown of like what - financially - it's going to be like for the next few months," said Pfromm.

City officials are limiting outdoor exercise to a maximum of 10 total staff and clients for every one thousand square feet of space. Pfromm said that's unrealistic for gyms in the city

"I mean it would be different if you were out in the 'burbs and had outdoor space," said Pfromm. "But if you're in the city, likely you have no outdoor space to really have a class outside. I guess you could go to a park or something like that."

Mayor Jim Kenney said a lot of thought went into the new restrictions and he recognizes how difficult they are.

Dr. Farley said he is encouraging neighboring counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to implement the same restrictions.
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