Restaurant owner shares concerns if Philadelphia COVID restrictions aren't lifted January 15

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Concerns grow by city officials about a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases.

Pennsylvania officials say there were nearly 3,800 new COVID-19 cases, including 1,500 in Philadelphia, reported Monday.

Many say they are pushed to the brink as they worry that next week's planned reopening will not happen.

Spoonie O'Neal, the owner of O'Neals Irish Pub on South 3rd Street in Queen Village, says outdoor dining just isn't getting it done.

"We need to open up, or we're going to be losing our businesses," O'Neal said.

O'Neal believes that many in his industry may start defying orders if the city doesn't hold up their January 15 plans to resume.

"You've seen in the other counties, they're opening up whether the governor likes it or not. That's going to get to the point here," he said. "At one point or another, something is going to have to give."

Right now, the city's stance is 'riskiest settings' will remain closed to January 15 at least.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, "By riskiest settings, I mean indoor dining and restaurants, indoor gatherings and events, theaters, casinos, college for in person education and indoor organized sports."

A second-holiday virus surge from Christmas and potentially New Years was widely discussed during the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health's COVID update on Monday. Pennsylvania, not including Philadelphia, currently has a ban on indoor dining through January 4.

"We are concerned that we could see an increase again in January if people do not stay the course," said Dr. Rachel Levine. "I can't predict that future. We're trying to prevent that surge in January in the first place."

O'Neal says he is prepared for news that won't work well for his business.

"There's no way people are coming out and sitting in these types of temperatures," he added. "We need to have inside dining, at least 50%."

State and city health officials are hoping for New Years that there are no gatherings, so the potential second surge doesn't happen and places like O'Neals can get back to indoor business.
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