Fear strikes restaurant, bar owners as Philadelphia prepares for new COVID-19 restrictions

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Sunday, November 15, 2020
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With the surge going the way it is, the handwriting was on the wall that sooner or later, there could be some very tough new restrictions coming.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With the COVID-19 surge going the way it is, the handwriting was on the wall that sooner or later there could be some very tough new restrictions coming.

Philadelphia officials are planning to announce new restrictions on Monday, November 16.

"We will be announcing additional restrictions on Monday. We're working out exactly what those will be right now, but people can expect that," said Philadelphia health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.

The surge in the numbers reported by state and city officials reflects the number of cases we saw in the spring.

In fact, according to 6abc Data Team, all five counties in the region are experiencing more new cases than they did in April, and those cases are growing at its fastest pace yet.

"Rates are rising exponentially now in Philadelphia, so we're not recommending people get together for Thanksgiving," said Dr. Farley.

For bar and restaurant owners in the city, word of potential new restrictions is not good news.

Teddy Siourias says he just spent upwards of $50,000 to turn his place Tinsel into a yearly Christmas bar that has become very popular but halted the work amid the new restriction rumors.

"I got wind of something. There are whispers in the City of Philadelphia that come Monday, there will be a city-wide restaurant shutdown of indoor seating," said Siourias. "Most bars and restaurants will be crippled by having no indoor seating. There's no way that a lot of restaurants will be able to sustain their day to day by just having a few tables outside."

Ben Fileccia of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association says he has been fielding calls all day from members.

"It's just really scary, and there just hasn't been any support. I mean, we know Governor Wolf has $1.3 billion of Cares Act Money that he has to spend before the end of the year. We need that money," said Fileccia.

While the new city restrictions have not been released, there are things some people hope will not be impacted.

"I have to work. I'm hoping that they don't do anything as far as work goes," said Dwayne Riley of North Philadelphia.

While patrons we spoke to don't want another lock-down, they were on board with some restrictions.

"I am nervous about what they would be, but I think...they're warranted," said McKenzie Case of Chestnut Hill.

"Looking at the covid rates and the hospitalization rates and knowing that we're in a surge - something needs to change to take this under control," said Karen Roy of Chestnut Hill.

This past week New Jersey put an indoor dining curfew into effect and banned barside seating as a result of the rising COVID numbers.

While officials continue to refine and tweak their strong response to the surge, as things stand now, the new restrictions will be announced by the city at 1 p.m. Monday.