Philly bans indoor dining, gatherings as COVID-19 cases rise sharply

The city averaged 721 new cases a day last week.

Philadelphia announced new COVID-19 restrictions today, including bans on indoor gatherings and dining until Jan 1, 2021. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Philadelphia will ban indoor gatherings between people of different households and suspend indoor dining beginning Nov. 20 until Jan. 1, 2021, in an effort to combat rising COVID-19 cases, the city announced today at a press briefing. 

The city will also reduce its capacity limits for outdoor dining and retail stores and close high schools, gyms, museums and libraries as daily new cases reached 960 for the first time since May 2.

“We lasted with this virus eight months now,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “We can last a few months more. A vaccine will be available in the coming months. We simply need to tide ourselves over until then.” 

Outdoor venues must limit attendance to 10 percent occupancy, or a maximum of 2,000 people, and cannot serve food or beverages, Farley said. Outdoor dining will be allowed for between four or fewer members of the same household.

Retail stores can remain open but occupancy will be reduced to five people per 1,000 square feet and stores must enforce mask wearing, Farley said. Religious institutions can operate in person at five percent occupancy, but the city recommends that services are held virtually, he added. 

Residents should work from home whenever possible, Farley said. 

“In all these meetings, every single restriction and change was discussed with the understanding that they will impact businesses, they will impact jobs and impact people’s lives,” said Mayor Jim Kenney at the briefing. 

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