What to Know
- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is allowing larger crowds at indoor and outdoor events under coronavirus-related guidance that's linked to the maximum capacity of venues.
- The new guidelines employ a sliding scale that will permit much larger crowds at many events, including school sporting events during the fall season.
- The Democratic governor's new rules, announced Tuesday, will take effect on Friday. The City of Philadelphia said it won't announce if it will adopt the new measures until next week.
Pennsylvania restrictions on the number of people who can gather at large events, like an Eagles game, were eased on Tuesday, clearing the way eventually for up to 7,500 fans to watch football at Lincoln Financial Field.
However, the City of Philadelphia's top health official said he won't immediately approve the state's new rule. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the city would make its own determination on the new state rule by next Tuesday.
The Eagles play their next home game Oct. 18.
The owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which are hosting the Eagles on Sunday, said the team would immediately invite 5,500 fans into the stadium for the game.
Starting Friday, outdoor venues of 10,000 seats or more (such as Lincoln Financial Field) can house 15% capacity, up to 7,500 people, according to the new regulations announced by Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Health Sec. Rachel Levine. Indoor venues of 10,000 seats or more are capped at 10% capacity, up to 3,750 people.
"Venues must require attendees to comply with 6-foot social distancing requirements, to wear masks or face coverings, and to implement best practices such as timed entry, multiple entry and exit points, multiple restrooms and hygiene stations," the state said in a news release.
The Democratic governor's new limits employ a sliding scale, linked to the size of the crowd, to determine capacity. The new rules will replace limits of 25 people indoors and 250 outdoors, allowing much larger crowds at a range of events, including sports.
On Tuesday, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said that the city could continue to be more restrictive than the state (like they've been with indoor dining) if they feel the need to. They will review the new guidelines and announce next Tuesday if large venues could begin welcoming back fans.
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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said they don't want to jump "blindly" into easing restrictions and need to time to review the guidance.
Currently outdoor gatherings in Philly are limited to 150 people.
The Eagles have yet to comment if they will allow fans. The Birds play the Steelers in Pittsburgh this Sunday. It isn't clear if fans will be allowed to attend.
Previous orders called for restrictions on gatherings no matter the size of the venue, which prevented fans in the stands.
This order opens up the ability of high schools to allow more fans in the stands and other venues to allow people inside.
Other capacity requirements will now be in place for smaller venues and gatherings. Up to 2,000 people can gathering indoors at 20% capacity (according to fire code) and outdoors at 25%. Venues holding 2,001 to 10,000 people can allow 15% capacity indoors and 20% capacity outdoors.
"We know everyone has sacrificed in many ways and today’s announcement reflects a gradual adjustment to our lives as we learn how we can do things safely until we have a cure, or an effective vaccine is widely available," Wolf, a Democrat, said.
Wolf and Levine said the changes apply to temporary groups of people meeting over a limited time period, including fairs, festivals, concerts and shows, as well as larger and more permanent events such as performances at amusement parks, movies, business meetings and conferences.
Wolf's earlier limits on gatherings were thrown out by a western Pennsylvania federal judge, but on Oct. 1 the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the governor's limits while that decision is appealed.
The Wolf administration's guidance says it does not apply to groups that share a space within an office building, classrooms, production floors or other “regularly occurring operation of a business or organization.”
Pennsylvania has laid out safety standards and capacity restrictions for venues, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and other facilities on the FAQs section of its COVID-19 website.
If COVID-19 cases spike from larger events, restrictions could be tightened.
“If our case investigation and contact tracing efforts determine that events or gatherings are the source of an outbreak, we can and will dial back these new limits,” Levine said.