Philadelphia's new COVID-19 restrictions are now in effect

Philadelphia COVID-19 live updates, news and information

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Sunday, November 22, 2020
Philadelphia's new COVID-19 restrictions are now in effect
The restrictions went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and are in place through January 1, 2021.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With mild temperatures expected this weekend, Philadelphia restaurant owners are hoping for booming outdoor dining sales as they have been forced to close their indoor dining rooms to patrons amid new COVID-19 restrictions.

"Setting up outside on a sidewalk in South Philadelphia in some way to feed people. There's still a market to feed people," said Mike Lynch, of Miles Table.

Lynch said he is doing what he can with what he's got - pivoting once again, like many restaurants, to a focus on take out and dining outdoors.

As coronavirus cases rise in Philadelphia the capacity rules for indoor dining at restaurants is down to zero.

The concern for waitress, Alexandra Mattias, how she'll support her four children with rent due in 10 days.

"I'm basically a single mom, and this is a steady income for me and not just me, multiple people. For them to take that away from us is cruel, especially during the holidays," said Mattias.

Philadelphia's new COVID-19 restrictions are now in effect.

With museums also forced to close in the City of Brotherly Love, it's prolonging the layoffs at places like the Franklin Institute. In March, 75% of its more than 300 person workforce was laid off.

"We were prepared for a second shutdown but it's still disappointing and it will continue to be devastating for the arts, culture and educational institutions here in the city," said CEO and President Larry Dubinski.

Visitors are now forced to look at iconic spots, including the Liberty Bell, from behind a glass window.

"You have to deal with it but at least I can still see the Liberty Bell and take a picture of it," said Kevin McDonald, who was visiting from San Francisco.

The following restrictions went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and are in place through January 1, 2021:


*Indoor dining prohibited

*Outdoor dining allowed, but require that parties be household members only

*Maximum table size of four seats

*Takeout and delivery service may continue


*Prohibited indoors at any size, at any location

*Includes both public and private events

*For example: Indoor parties, group meals, football watching groups, visiting between households, weddings, funerals, baby showers


*Gatherings limited at 10% occupancy or 10 persons per 1,000 square feet

*Cap for large spaces of no more than 2,000 people

*No fans at football games

*Masks must be worn at all times

*No food or beverages served at outdoor gatherings to ensure people can wear masks


*Allow with reduced density limit of five people per 1,000 square feet

*Enforcement of mask use by customers and employees


*Employees must work from home unless not possible

SPORTS (Youth, school and community)



*Theaters, including movie theaters, and other performance spaces

*Bowling alleys, arcades, and game spaces


*Libraries. (Those serving as Access Centers may continue to operate. Curbside dropoff and pickup services for patrons are allowed)


*Recreational activities and sports for youth, community groups, and schools

*Gyms and indoor exercise classes. (Exercise groups and classes may continue outdoors)

*Senior day services (senior centers and adult day care centers) remain closed


*Barbershops, beauty salons, and similar personal services may continue to operate, but all staff and customers must wear masks at all times. These businesses cannot work on the face or otherwise perform services that require that masks be removed

*Zoos may operate only their outdoor areas

*Parks, trails, playgrounds, and athletic fields will remain open for individual use only. (No group sports)


*Colleges & universities: online classes only (College sports may continue if their plan is specifically approved by the Department of Public Health and no spectators are present)

*High schools: online classes only

*Elementary and middle schools: in-person permitted, following Philadelphia Dept. of Public Health safety guidance

*Child care, early childhood education and access centers: in-person permitted, following Philadelphia Dept. of Public Health safety guidance


*No more than five percent occupancy or five per thousand square feet

*Encouraged to hold services online


The Philadelphia restrictions are not as tight as the ones last spring.

*Grocery stores and farmers markets





*Home-based construction, renovation, repair, and maintenance

*Manufacturing and warehousing

*Real estate operations and transactions

*Health care services

*Home-based support services, such as home health services

*Taxis and ride share services


*Outdoor mobile food carts and trucks


*Drive-in events in which people remain in their vehicles

*Child day care and early learning centers

*Elementary and middle schools

*Access Centers for children in elementary and middle school

Restaurant Employees Facing Difficult Decisions

In light of the restrictions, some business owners are taking the matter to court. A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Philadelphia and Mayor Jim Kenney.

Attorney Brian Fritz represents "Philadelphia Restaurant Owners Group Against Lockdowns." He is seeking an emergency injunction to prohibit the shutdown of indoor dining.

"We have no reports and no studies of somehow the restaurants being linked to any infections. How is dining in a restaurant in Philadelphia more dangerous than going to a Lowe's, Walmart, Wawa or the city's Christmas village?" Fritz said.

Business owners argue that they should be able to operate with the safety measures put in place in July when many restrictions from the spring lifted.

The lawsuit claims the city's "Safer at Home" restrictions on indoor dining in unconstitutional. (Read the lawsuit HERE.)

WATCH: Fears of major financial impact from Philly COVID restrictions

It was supposed to be the time businesses could make up for lost revenue, but the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia have derailed those plans.

Leyna Bradley, a 21-year-old server at Trademans Bar & Restaurant, is trying to make ends meet as she works to graduate from college next May. She and others working in the industry are facing more financial uncertainty as the new restrictions go into effect.

"The debt's gonna pile up a little bit and it's definitely gonna be stressful not knowing where your next source of income's gonna come from," said Bradley.

"It's very stressful. I mean we have lives, some of us have kids, some of us are still in school, so it's just really unfortunate," said bartender Amanda Negri.

Jen Camela, general manager of Forsythia in the 200 block of Chestnut Street, said a lot of restaurants are being forced to make difficult decisions about their employees.

WATCH: Restaurants and gyms in Philadelphia try to make it work in light of new restrictions

A day after officials announced the new restrictions in Philadelphia due to the soaring coronavirus cases, restaurant owners aren't mincing words.

"The folks that we've been lucky enough to come back, we have to send them back home again so that is, I think the hardest part," said Camela.

Gyms Bracing For Impact of Shutdown

Gyms are also taking a huge hit when the city's new restrictions go into effect.

Stephen Kindler, the president and CEO of a group of Planet Fitness franchises, said closing gyms doesn't make sense, adding that there is no proof of high transmission.

"I have four franchises within a mile of the NovaCare Complex -- the fact the Eagles can work out and citizens of the city can't, that's a tough pill to swallow," said Kindler.

Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's top health official, defended the city's decision, saying now is the riskiest time for the transmission of the virus.

"What was now safe is now dangerous with the change in the weather. Many businesses feel they put safety measures in place, sure they have, and I'm sure there's no spread there and that's true in many places. Remember, there are more people than ever with the virus," said Farley.

City officials said dramatic action is needed to respond to an exponential growth in cases and hospitalizations.

On Thursday, health officials announced 765 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 57,237.

The number of residents who have died from the virus in Philadelphia is 1,945.


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Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair closing

The new round of COVID-19 regulations was the final straw for one Philadelphia restaurant. The Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair is closing its doors for good after 70 years in business. The Lucky Cat Brewing Company, which is a standalone business inside the pub, will remain open.

The Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair is closing after 70 years in businesss.

Philadelphia museums knocked back down by new COVID-19 restrictions

The new restrictions put in place to tackle the surge of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia are hitting museums in the area hard. After going through a five-month shutdown during the first wave, they are being shut down again, which in some cases, will cause hard economic pain and uncertainty for employees.

National Constitution Center temporarily closes to the public through January 1, 2021

In accordance with health guidelines from the City of Philadelphia in response to COVID-19, the National Constitution Center is temporarily closed to the public through January 1, 2021. The Center offers a range of free online programs and resources for learners of all ages. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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The new COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia will have a major impact on houses of worship, which for the time being can operate at only 5% capacity. While the Archdiocese of Philadelphia revises its guidance, some churches and synagogues in the city have a variety of innovative plans to carry on through the holidays.

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