PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia restaurants were allowed to expand to 50% indoor capacity on Friday.
Restaurants in the city had been limited to 25% indoor capacity.
It's the break that restauranteurs like Ilisha Sampson from Frankie Nick's has been waiting for. She opened her brand new restaurant in Bella Vista right before the COVID-19 shutdown.
"We opened in February and it's been a really rough start through the pandemic hit us pretty hard," said Sampson.
Her restaurant serves 123 people so she'll now be able to open up to 60 guests.
"I was caught off guard, I didn't really expect them to say 50% today. I thought we would get pushed back again," said Sampson.
For Anthony Masapollo of Bistro Romano off Headhouse Square, more tables mean more business and a better chance of survival for employees.
"For the most part we have retained people and we have (hired) new people here, which is also good," said Masapollo.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said restaurants in the city will have to follow the same steps as other establishments in the commonwealth when they expanded indoor dining on September 21.
Restaurants will have to self-certify through the 'Open & Certified Pennsylvania' website that they are following the state and CDC guidelines. They will then become part of the 'Open & Certified Pennsylvania' database.
Pennsylvania health officials have said restaurants in the state looking to reopen to 50% indoor capacity must complete the online self-certification process by October 5.
Philadelphia restaurants will also have to follow city guidance.
Tables have to be spaced so any one person sitting at a table is 6 feet or more from a person sitting at another table. There can be only four people or fewer at a table, as Farley says they want only members of the same household sitting with each other.
There will be no seating at bars and no alcohol will be served unless with a meal, per state guidance that city "strongly endorses."
Another city rule is that servers must wear masks and face shields.
Farley said the health department encourages all restaurants to improve ventilation and increase outdoor seating options.
He did say if cases rise, the city may have to reimpose restrictions.