Philly restaurants will not move to 50% indoor capacity on Sept. 21; outdoor gathering limit increases

The limit on outdoor gatherings is expanded to 150 starting Monday.

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Thursday, September 10, 2020
Philly restaurants will not move to 50% capacity on Sept. 21
Dr. Farley announces Philadelphia restaurants will not move with the rest of the state to 50% indoor capacity.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia restaurants will not move to 50% indoor capacity on September 21, but may do so at a later date in October.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced city restaurants will remain at 25% indoor capacity, which began on Tuesday.

"As a city that's been hit hardest by the epidemic, in the past we've said we will be more restrictive than the state if we think it's necessary to protect Philadelphia residents. That's the case now," Farley said.

On the same day Philadelphia restaurants began to allow patrons inside their establishments, Governor Tom Wolf announced that restaurants in the state would be permitted to open their indoor seating to 50% capacity starting September 21.

Farley said health officials have reviewed Wolf's proposal and they will not be making the change in the city at the time.

It will be determined, he said, based on COVID-19 rates in Philadelphia, as well as other locations that move to 50% capacity, if restaurants will increase their indoor limit in October.

"If the case counts continue to decline and there are no problems elsewhere with the 50% limit, we will consider making that change here some time in October," Farley said.

RELATED: Philadelphia businesses prepping for return of indoor dining

Tuesday marked the first time restaurants in Philadelphia could serve guests inside since city leaders shut down restaurants in March.

Outdoor Gatherings

Dr. Farley did announce the expansion of limits regarding outdoor gatherings in the city.

Beginning Monday, September 14, outdoor gatherings can have 150 people, an increase from the current limit of 50 people.

RELATED: Indoor dining at Pa. restaurants can expand to 50% capacity starting Sept. 21

INDOOR DINING INCREASE: Starting September 21, restaurants in Pennsylvania can increase indoor dining to 50% capacity.

"Our experience has been that outdoor gatherings are less risky than indoor gatherings," Farley said.

Farley said the city has few, if any, reports that it was clear spread occurred outside, but many examples of spread occurring indoors, even in small gatherings.

Farley said all gatherings have a risk of spread, but if people want to gather, he recommends they do it outside. But Farley said people still need to keep a 6-foot distance from others and need to wear masks.

He recommends people should avoid serving food or drinks when gathering even outside.

Farley said many people will want to tailgate and get together for Sunday's Philadelphia Eagles game. He said that would be a high risk.

"We recommend that people who watch the game just to do it with members of your household, not with a group of friends," Farley said.

The limit for indoor gatherings remains at 25 people.