Pa., NJ Easing COVID-19 Restrictions. Here's What's Allowed

Pennsylvania is moving forward with easing some restrictions despite a rise in cases, but locally, Philadelphia is hitting the brakes

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Rising infections are not slowing down the loosening of restrictions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but in Philadelphia, leaders are pumping the brakes.

A recent rise in cases won’t halt plans to loosen restrictions, Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Alison Beam said last week. New Jersey, meanwhile, eased more restrictions Friday, despite being one of the national leaders when it comes to new infections.

Philadelphia, though, is taking a more cautious approach.

Here’s a look at how things are shaping out:

How many people will be allowed inside restaurants in Pennsylvania?

The number of people allowed to dine inside a restaurant as of Sunday will be either 75% or 50%, depending on whether the restaurant goes through what the state calls a self-certification process.

Restaurants that do self-certify will be allowed to operate at the higher capacity, while those that don’t are required to operate at 50%.

What is self-certification?

Self-certification boils down to restaurant owners agreeing to follow coronavirus mitigation efforts, though even restaurants that are not self-certified are required to follow masking and social distancing rules, including spacing diners at least six feet apart.

The big difference is that a self-certified restaurant must agree to appear on the Open & Certified Pennsylvania database, which is meant to help people by allowing them to look up a particular restaurant.

What about alcohol sales?

Starting Sunday, businesses will be allowed to sell alcohol without requiring that someone buy a meal first. The midnight curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will also be lifted.

What will be Pennsylvania's new limits on indoor and outdoor events?

Indoor events will be allowed at 25% of a venue’s capacity, regardless of the venue’s size. Outdoor events, meanwhile, will be allowed at 50% capacity.

What about other businesses?

Gyms and entertainment businesses like casinos, malls and theaters will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity.

When will Philadelphia follow suit?

Philadelphia’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, has warned of rising infections in recent weeks and said the city won’t start relaxing further restrictions until April 30 at the earliest.

What are Philadelphia’s capacity limits on indoor and outdoor dining?

Indoor dining is allowed at 25% capacity. A restaurant can increase capacity to 50% if it meets enhanced ventilation criteria and completes the required application.

Outdoor seating is allowed with a 50-person limit.

What are Philadelphia’s limits on indoor and outdoor events?

Indoor events are limited to 15% capacity, while outdoor events are allowed at 20% capacity.

What are the new rules in New Jersey?

New Jersey is now among the nationwide leaders when it comes to both total and per capita coronavirus infections, but Gov. Phil Murphy is going ahead with further loosening restrictions.

Currently, the state allows indoor dining at 50% capacity, though bar seating is still banned. Indoor gatherings for non-religious or non-political purposes are allowed with a 25-person cap.

Even though New Jersey continues reporting more coronavirus cases, the state moved on in relaxing some restrictions in outdoor and indoor events. NBC10’s Drew Smith reports.

Large venues that seat 2,500 people or more can host events at 20% capacity indoors and 30% capacity outdoors.

Outdoor gatherings are now allowed for up to 200 people, which includes youth and college sports if they can keep fans socially distanced.

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