Indoor Dining Returning to Philadelphia Sept. 8, City Says — With Limitations

The city's famed restaurants have not had indoor dining for about five months. The opening is timed for after the Labor Day holiday

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What to Know

  • Philadelphia restaurants will be allowed to seat some indoor diners starting Sept. 8
  • The total number of diners at a time is limited to 25% of the restaurant's capacity and no more than four diners can sit at each table
  • Movie and live theaters also get to open, with limitations, Sept. 8, and bowling alleys and other indoor games can open immediately, though still with limitations.

Philadelphia officials say indoor dining will return to city restaurants on Sept. 8, though only four diners will be allowed at a time at one table -- and the number of total diners will be limited to 25% of each restaurant's capacity.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney made the announcement at a press conference about the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic Thursday. The city's restaurants closed in mid-March; limited outdoor dining was allowed starting June 12.

The rule requiring no more than four seats at a table is to discourage mixing people from different households, said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's health commissioner.

Also among the restrictions on restaurants: Servers must wear face masks as well as face shields. Diners at separate tables must be at least six feet apart or have an impermeable barrier between them. Diners must wear masks unless they are eating.

There will be no seating at bars, and alcohol can't be served without food. Last call for all indoor dining orders will be at 11 p.m. and restaurants must close by midnight.

Restaurants must install physical barriers where maintaining six feet of distance is difficult, including in kitchens and at cash registers, host stands, and food pick up areas. And restaurant workers must be screened for symptoms before every shift.

The restaurants also are being urged to increase ventilation and promote the state's upcoming contact tracing app.

In some cases -- including the use of face shields -- those rules are more restrictive than in suburban counties.

The city plans to send inspectors in to restaurants to ensure that restaurants comply with the new rules, said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's health commissioner. "We will be quick to close restaurants" that don't comply, he said Thursday.

Also Thursday, the city announced it would allow theaters, including movie theaters and live performance venues, to reopen as well on Sept. 8. The total attendance of those venues is limited to 50% capacity and a maximum of 25 people, meaning even large venues can seat only 25. All attendees must wear masks. No food or drink can be sold.

Bowling alleys, arcades, and other indoor games may open immediately, at 50% capacity and a maximum of 25 people. No food or drink is allowed.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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