PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia officials on Tuesday laid out further plans to reopen the city as COVID-19 case counts have continued to drop and vaccinations have increased.
During a COVID-19 response briefing, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced further easing of sweeping restrictions across the city.
The announcements came a week after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the rest of the commonwealth would be lifting nearly all COVID-19 restrictions on Memorial Day, with mask requirements staying in place until 70% of Pennsylvanians are vaccinated.
On June 11, Mayor Jim Kenney says the city will lift all ‘Safe at Home’ restrictions that were implemented at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Effective Friday, May 21, the City of Philadelphia will increase capacity limits in most settings to 50%. In settings with fixed seating, social distancing requirements will be dropped to a minimum of three feet, rather than six feet.
Masks will still be required indoors.
Other key changes include lifting density limits in environments like office buildings, allowing employers to begin bringing employees back to the offices with masking requirements still in place unless workers are in a room alone.
Density limits will also be lifted on retail stores, museums, libraries.
Theatres and other venues or gathering places, both indoor and outdoor, can operate at 50% of maximum occupancy with a minimum of three feet of distance between people from different groups. Those venues include the Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Park.
The Philadelphia 76ers have already announced plans to increase fan capacity to 50% in time for the first round of the NBA Playoffs in response to the city's announcement on Tuesday.
As for indoor dining, restaurants will be staying at 50% of maximum occupancy for the time being, while restaurants that meet the city's enhanced ventilation standards can seat up to 75%. The minimum distance from chairback to chairback will be reduced to three feet, allowing some establishments to welcome back more customers.
The city will also be lifting the requirement that permitted alcohol to only be sold with an order of food.
Catered outdoor events will no longer have a maximum number of permitted persons. However, city officials consider indoor catered events to be one of the riskiest activities, and will be keeping occupancy restrictions at 25% with a cap of 150 people.
Officials say more detailed guidance on the revised restrictions will be posted on the city's website by the end of the week.
Mask-wearing will still be required unless eating or drinking, even after June 11, and the city says they will still have recommendations, not requirements, to help people stay safe. Dr. Farley on Tuesday declined to put a date on when the mask mandate may be lifted.
Dr. Farley also continued to urge Philadelphia residents to keep wearing masks, and avoid attending crowded indoor settings unless vaccinated.
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