CENTER CITY - Almost all of the remaining COVID restrictions in Pennsylvania have been lifted, as Governor Wolf put an end to capacity restrictions on businesses, events and venues Monday.
For the first time in more in a year, restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters and nightclubs can now operate at full capacity. The cleaning and sanitizing requirements for businesses have been lifted. And, schools are no longer required to report COVID cases to the state.
But that is not exactly the case in Philly. Things are moving a little slower.
"It almost feels foreign to come back to normal a little bit," said Samanatha Marrone. She’s a bartender at Stogie Joe’s Tavern on East Passyunk in South Philly. Memorial Day evening outside dining was full and inside customers give the place a sense of normalcy.
But, Marrone says come June 2nd, they will be literally back in business.
"Even just the vibe on the whole avenue is just like everybody is out and everybody seems positive and there’s a lot more energy and life around here now," she said.
Marrone is talking about the anticipation of Wednesday when Philadelphia will join the rest of the state and drop nearly all of its COVID restrictions, because officials say, due to a decrease in COVID cases and increase in vaccinations. For restaurants and bars the biggest change will be no more limits on the number of customers allowed to be served inside.
"I am very excited and I just hope we’re as fast as we used to be because I’m just really excited to get into that rhythm again," Marrone commented.
Dropping capacity limits and social distancing rules will apply to all businesses - stadiums and other events. The 11 p.m. curfew for restaurants and wearing a mask indoors will remain, for now.
"We’re still protecting the people who still have to work in this environment so I think it’s fine that we’re still wearing masks indoors," said Jasmine Jones. She and her roommate Callie Rojewski were out for Mexican food in South Philly Monday evening, joining a party of 10. They’re excited about an end to COVID restrictions in place for over a year now.
"I think it's ok as long as people are getting vaccinated and the rates of people getting infected are low," said Jones.
"I think I forgot how to dance and I think that once everything opens back up and everything is safe I will learn how to dance again," laughed Rojewski.
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