Philly Coronavirus News: The Shutdown Gets Real, The Numbers Grow, The People Need Their Booze

This time last week, many of you were still in the Coronavirus? What coronavirus? mentality. So much for that approach.

philadelphia museum of art coronavirus

Visitors on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Philadelphia coronavirus crisis. The Art Museum (and many other Philly institutions) are closed due to the coronavirus in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Update: As of 5 p.m. on Monday, dining (or drinking) inside of Philly bars and restaurants has been banned until at least March 27th. Restaurants are allowed to offer carry-out and delivery services.

A roundup of Philly coronavirus news.

More Philly Coronavirus Cases

As of Monday afternoon, there are nine confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Philadelphia. In Bucks County, five cases. Chester County has two cases. In Delaware County, seven cases. And the biggest number by far can be found in Montgomery County, which stands at 30.

Statewide, we are looking at 63 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Of the 446 residents that have been under investigation for the coronavirus in Pennsylvania, 225 have turned out to be negative. 183 patients anxiously await their results.

The Philly Coronavirus Shutdown Gets Real

What a difference a week makes.

This time last week, many of you in Philly were still in the Coronavirus? What coronavirus? mentality. Schools were open and showed no signs of closing. Big sporting events and concerts remained on the calendar, as did the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Life was, more or less, pretty normal.

But now, all schools have closed. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade didn’t happen. Add to the list of closures museums, sporting venues, theaters, all branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia, etc, etc, etc.

It’s hard to find non-essential (read: pharmacies, grocery stores, hospitals, and gas stations) spots that are open at this point in Philadelphia. Well, unless you’re looking for a bar or restaurant.

While bars and restaurants in Delaware, Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties are now under tight restrictions (more on that below), the state hasn’t yet applied those same restrictions to bars and restaurants in Philadelphia. And many of those bars and restaurants had good crowds over the weekend.

In fact, on Saturday, Mayor Jim Kenney told residents to “go out and have dinner” (while practicing social distancing and good hygiene, naturally). He faced immediate criticism over his comments, and soon took to Twitter to offer this:

“I was attempting to show support for local businesses and stop panic,” he wrote. “We should all be mindful to limit gatherings, and of course, if you don’t feel well, stay home.”

Things are expected to change after a 1 p.m. press conference on Monday. So Monday night could be your last dining out hurrah for a while. As with everything else related to the coronavirus, it’s fluid.

The Governor Gets Tough

On Thursday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf took to the podium and asked all “non-essential retail facilities” in Montgomery County to close down for two weeks, the key word being “asked.”

But once it became clear that bars and restaurants in certain parts of Montco were crowded over the weekend, Wolf changed his tune and decided to force social distancing.

On Sunday, the Governor ordered all bars and restaurants to temporarily stop doing dine-in business as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday. And that order went beyond Montco to also include Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County and Allegheny County, though the latter probably doesn’t matter all that much to you unless you were planning to take a trip to Pittsburgh this week.

“Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so, but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited,” read a statement issued by Wolf’s office on Sunday.

Wolf says that his office will reevaluate the order in two weeks. And a very long two weeks they’re going to be.

Panic Shopping Comes to a Liquor Store Near You

You know how to further stress people out who are already stressed out? Tell them that they’re not going to be able to get a bottle of wine or booze soon.

That’s just what Governor Wolf did over the weekend when he announced that Monday would mark the last day of business for state stores in the Philly suburbs for the time being. As with bars and restaurants, Philly itself wasn’t part of that directive — though, again, this is probably going to change. And soon.

We made it in and out of a liquor store in Southwest Philly in about five minutes on Sunday in the early afternoon. (Because you want to know: We got Beefeater gin, vermouth, and some wine.) When we returned a few hours later (a self-quarantined friend requested vodka), the store looked like a war zone, and there were dozens of people in line.

Good luck!