The City of Philadelphia and Department of Public Health Announce New Restrictions to Fight Rising COVID-19 Cases

On November 16, 2020, the City of Philadelphia and the Department of Health announced changes to restrictions on businesses, events and gatherings, and other activities to help fight the rise in COVID-19 cases. The new “Safer at Home” restrictions are aimed at reducing the number of COVID-19 deaths and preventing hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Below is a brief summary of the new Safer at Home restrictions:

The following businesses and activities are not allowed:

  • High schools and colleges must move to online instruction only, with the exception of clinical instruction for students in health sciences
  • Indoor dining at restaurants and other food service businesses (take-out, delivery and outdoor dining may continue; additional restrictions on outdoor dining are detailed below)
  • Theaters and other performance spaces
  • Bowling alleys, arcades and game spaces
  • Museums
  • Libraries (those serving as Access Centers may continue to operate. Curbside drop-off and pickup services for patrons are allowed)
  • Casinos
  • Recreational activities and sports for youth, community groups and schools
  • Gyms and indoor exercise classes (exercise groups and classes may continue outdoors)
  • Senior day services (senior centers and adult day care centers) remain closed

Changes to events and gatherings include:

  • All indoor gatherings and events involving people from more than one household are prohibited, in public or private spaces. This includes private events such as weddings and showers, listed as “celebrations” in previous guidance, as well as funerals.
  • Religious institutions are permitted to have people indoors, but density must be capped at 5 people per 1,000 sq. ft. or 5 percent of maximum occupancy.
  • Outdoor gatherings and events are limited to 10 percent of maximum capacity of the space, or 10 people per 1,000 sq. ft. for venues with an undefined maximum capacity – not to exceed 2,000 people in any outdoor space. In addition, all individuals at outdoor gatherings must wear masks at all times, and – to reinforce mask use – neither food nor beverages may be served.

Additional changes to capacity limits and other precautions will be instituted for businesses and activities that are able to continue:

  • Restaurants offering outdoor dining must reduce table sizes to four people. Guidance will make it clear that groups dining outdoors should be household members only, because mixing different households promotes community-wide spread.
  • Retail stores and indoor malls may continue to operate, but with a maximum density of 5 people per 1,000 square feet. The City will require these stores to enforce mask use and distancing of customers and staff.
  • Offices are permitted to have only employees that cannot work remotely.
  • Barbershops, beauty salons and similar personal services may continue to operate, but all staff and customers must wear masks at all times. These businesses cannot work on the face or otherwise perform services that require that masks be removed.
  • College sports may continue if their plan is specifically approved by the Department of Public Health and no spectators are present.
  • Zoos may operate only their outdoor areas.
  • Parks, trails, playgrounds and athletic fields will remain open for individual use only. (No group sports)

The Safer at Home restrictions are effective November 20, 2020 through January 1, 2021. However, the extension of these restrictions is possible as well as additional restrictions may be included depending on the trends in the spread of COVID-19 in the city. For more information on the new “Safer at Home” restrictions please click here.

If you have any questions about the new “Safer at Home” restrictions, please contact a Stevens & Lee attorney.