Philly indoor dining to expand to 50 percent capacity

While seating capacity will double, a new restriction will restrict no more than four guests per table.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley speaks during Philadelphia's virtual COVID-19 press briefing on Sept. 29. | CITY OF PHILADELPHIA / COURTESY

Restaurants can expand their indoor dining capacity to 50 percent starting Friday, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced at a press conference today.

The announcement comes after restaurants have been operating under 25 percent capacity since Sept. 8.

Pennsylvania expanded indoor dining to 50 percent capacity on Sept. 21. 

In Philadelphia, restaurants must certify online that they are following social distancing guidelines and require that there be no more than four guests per table, Farley said. 

“We don’t want people from different households to be dining together because that will increase the opportunity for spread between different households and that is a big part of our problem right now,” he said.

Seating at bars is still not allowed and alcohol can only be served with meals, said Farley.

Servers and restaurant staff are still required to wear masks, Farley said. Restaurants should take steps to improve their ventilation indoors, however outdoor seating is still the optimal environment for limiting the spread of the virus, he added.

Relaxing restrictions on restaurants was possible due to the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the city, Farley said, adding that restrictions will be reinstated if cases spike again. 

Philadelphia averaged approximately 76 new cases a day from Sept. 14 to Sept. 27, The Temple News reported

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