Philadelphia restaurants can reopen dining rooms Saturday at 25% capacity

Theaters and performance spaces can reopen with limitations on Saturday, too.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Starting Saturday, indoor dining can resume at Philadelphia restaurants after the city lifted a nearly two-month ban due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Restaurants were getting Friday night for customers to walk through their doors again.

"It'll be a huge weight off our shoulders to welcome folks back indoors," said Rob Pelszinski, owner of Mount Airy Taproom.

His restaurant and bar opened in 2019, six months before the city first shut down restaurants due to the spread of COVID-19 in March.
Pelszinski said his dining room and staff are ready to greet customers inside again. A heated outdoor patio and take-out service have helped sustain his restaurant, but it's not enough.

"It's tough. You don't get rich paying rent on a restaurant you can't seat," said Pelszinski.

In South Philadelphia, Bridget Foy said she's excited to show off her brand new dining room for the first time Saturday.

SEE ALSO: Bridget Foy's reopens with pop-up cafe after devastating fire
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After a devastating fire, the Philadelphia landmark Bridget Foy's has returned to Headhouse Square operating a pop-up called East Philly Cafe.

A fire destroyed Bridget Foy's Local Bar and Kitchen in 2017.

"With 25% capacity, our tables are spaced socially distant. We're very fortunate to have a brand new HVAC system, so ventilation is excellent," said Foy.

Indoor dining at Philadelphia restaurants has been banned since November 20.
On Saturday, January 16, restaurants can reopen but must follow severe restrictions.

SEE ALSO: Indoor dining to resume on Jan. 16 in Philadelphia, but with restrictions
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Masks must be worn at all times while inside the restaurant, except when a person is eating or drinking.

They can only operate at 25% capacity and with no bar seating. No more than four people can sit at a table, and they must be from the same household.

Guests must wear masks unless they're actively eating or drinking.

While restaurateurs are looking forward to reopening, they know there are challenges in convincing people to eat inside.

Pelszinski said he and his staff are taking every precaution possible, but he realizes that's not necessarily enough for some customers.

This was the second ban on indoor dining during the pandemic so far. From March 16 to Sept. 8, there was no indoor dining. City officials then allowed restaurants to open at 25% capacity, then increasing the limit to 50% on Oct. 2 before the latest ban went into effect on Nov. 20.

Pennsylvania restaurants outside Philadelphia reopened indoor dining with limited capacity on Jan. 4.

Restaurants must go through a self-certification process to go to 50% capacity, otherwise, they are limited to 25%.

Philadelphia is also allowing other "riskier" settings and activities to resume on Saturday. Theaters and performance spaces are allowed to reopen with a cap on the total number of attendees, including staff, of 10 percent maximum occupancy. If the maximum occupancy is unknown, allow 10 persons per 1,000 square feet. Everyone in attendance must be masked, and no food or drink is allowed.

Colleges are also now allowed to resume in-person classes.

Philadelphia, along with the rest of the state, reopened less risky settings such as museums, gyms, and casinos on Jan. 4, as well.
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