With COVID-19 cases at lower levels amid ongoing vaccine efforts, Philadelphia lifted its coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, a week earlier than originally planned.
That includes all maximum capacity limits and distancing rules that have affected businesses like restaurants and event venues in the city since the pandemic began. The city called those rules "Safer-at-Home" restrictions.
The city's indoor mask mandate, however, remains in place. That and the rule that ends restaurant dining at 11 p.m. will still be enforced.
The Health Department said it would continue to review the state of the pandemic in the city and may drop those restrictions on Friday, June 11 -- though that is not definite.
This will be a big step in the region's largest city, which was the last government in the area to have many COVID lockdown rules in place. Pennsylvania lifted its capacity restrictions on Memorial Day; New Jersey lifted most of them May 19.
On Friday, Philadelphia said it would lift restrictions because reported COVID-19 cases have fallen to their lowest point since Sept. 2020 -- which was the lowest point since the start of the pandemic.
"These are encouraging signs that vaccination is truly turning the tide in Philadelphia," said Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the city's acting health commissioner. "We still have work to do to reach all Philadelphians, but we also want people to celebrate the good parts of life that we get back by getting vaccinated."
The first big sign of 100% capacity is expected to be on display Wednesday night as the Sixers take on the Washington Wizards in Game 5 of their NBA playoff series after being given the go-ahead last week.