PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia officials have announced that restaurants can reopen to limited dining during the pandemic Tuesday.
Officials delayed reopening restaurants until the COVID-19 cases surge settled down.
However, there are restrictions still for restaurants that wish to reopen. Restaurants must only operate with 25% of approved occupancy limits, they can only allow a maximum table size of four people, and household members only per table.
Everyone must wear masks at all times unless they're seated at a table and eating. Servers must wear masks and face shields.
"We're going to open on Tuesday. We're getting everything together," said Michael Clark as he briefed his staff about the scaled back return to indoor dining in Philly. He owns Reef Restaurant and Lounge. It’s a staple in Caribbean cuisine in South Philly at Third and South.
"Our staff was ready and waiting to come back," said Clark. After the last shutdown of indoor dining last November, he tried take-out and delivery for a bit but decided to close. He says it wasn't enough to stay afloat. While others around him continued even with outdoor seating through winter.
"It wasn't going to work for us. We attempted to at the best that we could do just to maintain even if we were going to just maintain our staff. But it was costing us," he said.
Indoor catered events and indoor social gatherings of any size are still forbidden, according to health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.
Starting Jan. 19, certain Free Library of Philadelphia locations will reopen to the public, according to Mayor Kenney. People will be allowed to reference desk services, access wifi, and computers, and borrow books.
Officials had previously announced sweeping restrictions back in November that were set to expire at 8 a.m. on Jan. 4, but due to a continued spike in cases, restrictions on indoor dining remained.
Certain businesses were allowed to resume operating on Jan. 4., including museums, outdoor sports, gyms, in-person learning for high schools, and outdoor catered events.
FULL COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS
Gov Tom Wolf eased restrictions on indoor dining in Pennsylvania on Jan. 4. Philadelphia has acted independently from the rest of the state for most of the pandemic.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said they were allotted 9,500 vials of the Moderna vaccine and 9,057 viles of Pfizer vaccine. Vaccinations continued at hospitals as well as at different mass centers and sites around the city in order to increase the number of people vaccinated.
The city announced that there are 637 new cases of the coronavirus bringing a total of 98,215 since the beginning of the pandemic.
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