Indoor Dining Is Returning to Philly as Some Coronavirus Restrictions Lifted

The city is easing some coronavirus restrictions that have been in place for months, including the reopening of some Free Library branches and city theaters, which have been closed since last spring.

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Restaurants in Philadelphia will be allowed to reopen indoor service this Saturday at 25% capacity and some Free Library branches will open Jan. 19 for limited in-person services as part of an easing of coronavirus restrictions announced Tuesday.

The reopenings of indoor dining and city theaters come with some requirements and some recommendations. One requirement for restaurants will be keeping table size to four or less people.

Very limited attendance at theaters in Philadelphia will also be allowed, but no food or drinks will be allowed to be served.

Mayor Jim Kenney and the city's health secretary, Dr. Thomas Farley, announced the lifting of certain restrictions on their weekly COVID-19 press conference.

"Your restaurant cannot have entertainment and your theater cannot have food," Farley said in referring to the new rules.

He added that indoor catered events are still prohibited. Despite the easing of the restrictions, Farley said he personally would still not eat indoors at a restaurant.

Kenney said the opening of libraries is important to many Philadelphians who rely on the branches for computer access.

"I know the Free Library staff is excited to welcome people back," Kenney said, noting that borrowing and returning books will also be part of the reopening plans to begin next week.

The change to indoor dining follows weeks of more restrictive mandates on restaurants in Philadelphia compared to the rest of Pennsylvania, where limited indoor dining has been allowed since last year.

The current restrictions in Philadelphia have been in place since Nov. 20.

"There is a downside to these restrictions, as everyone can see," Farley said in response to a question about the still high number of COVID cases in Philadelphia. "We're trying to strike a balance."

This story will be updated as more details become known.

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