Philadelphia will close libraries and in-person college instruction beginning Nov. 20 until Jan. 1, 2021, in an effort to combat rising COVID-19 cases, the city announced today at a press briefing.
Daily new cases in Philadelphia reached 960 on Nov. 10 for the first time since May 2, and the city recorded a 13.4 percent positivity rate among those tested last week, according to city data.
“All across the city, museums, libraries and gyms will shut down by Friday,” wrote James Garrow, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, in an email to The Temple News. “These restrictions apply to places on Temple’s campus, like the library and Student Center.
Philadelphia is also requiring high schools and colleges to move to virtual instruction, Garrow wrote.
Temple University already planned to modify and suspend most in-person operations beginning Nov. 20. However, Temple intended to keep Charles Library, the Howard Gittis Student Center and the TECH Center open through the university’s study days and final exams week on Dec. 16.
“We’re still trying to figure this out ourselves over the next few days,” said Raymond Betzner, a spokesperson for the university.
Charles Library has not announced new operating plans yet but will decide later this week, wrote Sara Wilson, assistant director of outreach and communications for Charles Library, in an email to The Temple News.
“We’re planning to remain open as much as possible within the framework presented by city and state officials,” wrote Jason Levy, senior director of Student Center operations and conferences, in an email to The Temple News.
The Philadelphia Credit Union branch, bookstore, UPS store and front entrance should remain open from Nov. 23 to 25 and again after Nov. 30, Levy wrote.
“We’ll be reevaluating all other operational and programmatic endeavors as we learn more in the coming days,” Levy added.
Temple recorded 49 active cases of COVID-19 among students and faculty on Monday, The Temple News reported.
Students who choose to return home for the rest of the fall semester can schedule a COVID-19 test in Mitten Hall from today until Nov. 20 and receive results the same day, according to an announcement from the university.
“We lasted with this virus eight months now,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley at the city’s press briefing today. “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.”
Philadelphia will also suspend indoor dining, close gyms and museums and ban indoor gatherings between people of different households, Farley said at the briefing.
Outdoor venues must limit attendance to 10 percent occupancy, or a maximum of 2,000 people, and cannot serve food or beverages, Farley added. 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.
“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.
Religious institutions can operate in person at five percent occupancy, but the city recommends that services are held virtually, he added.
“God can hear you from anywhere,” Kenney said in response to a question about worshipping in religious sites during the holiday season.
Residents should work from home whenever possible, Farley said.
The city will not close any of the more than 60 testing sites in Philadelphia, Farley said.