Philadelphia officials loosen COVID-19 restrictions on bar seating, outdoor dining

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- When Philadelphia officials announced that bar seating was back in the city, places began filling up.

Many say they finally will get to do something that hasn't been allowed for over a year.

At the Pub & Kitchen located on the 1900 block of Lombard Street, staff welcomed customers inside to sit at the bar.

"We're like pretty full up already, people lining up outside as soon as the news hit," said manager Travis Beohm.

The city is allowing groups of four or fewer from the same household to sit at the bar. They must keep six feet apart, according to the guidelines.

Also, there must be plexiglass barriers between patrons and bartenders.

"This is our first time at the bar inside," said Anne Diamond of Center City.

Debbie Dresnin of Center City said, "I like sitting at the bar. I never sat at the table. I like sitting at the bar. It's great."

The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association says this is a big move for bars and restaurants in Philadelphia.

"And now it's going to create a lot of remote jobs, immediately," said spokesman Ben Fileccia.

Among the bartenders back on the job is Brian Schiaffo.

"It opens up more seating for us. More seating means more people. More people means more money", added Schiaffo.

At the Mt Airy Tap Room, the co-owner had to rush to a hardware store to get plexiglass to make his bar compliant with the health regulations.

He says people have missed the social interaction between the bartender and patrons since bar seating closed in the city back in March of 2020.

"I feel like when you're a neighborhood establishment, people want to be cozied up to the bar. They wanna be across from the bartender having a beer", said Rob Pelszynski.

Restaurants with existing outdoor seating can also increase outdoor capacity above 50 people. But again, tables must be kept at least six feet apart, and they must submit an application to the city.
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