Philly Announces COVID Restrictions to End on June 11th
All capacity restrictions for businesses and private gatherings will be lifted, though you'll still need to wear a mask in public.
Fourteen months after the City of Philadelphia first shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the health department has announced that all COVID restrictions will end on June 11th. Health commissioner Thomas Farley made the decision in response to falling case counts in the city and across the country, along with the increasing number of vaccinations. According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control, 49 percent of Philadelphia residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a week ago that the state will lift all remaining restrictions by Memorial Day. Farley says that he plans to wait until June 11th in order to add “a little extra margin of safety” as case counts and hospitalizations decline.
As the June 11th reopening date approaches, the city will first ease some existing restrictions on May 21st. Here’s what will be allowed starting May 21st (note that masks remain required, except when eating or drinking):
- Offices: No density limits. Masks required unless a person is in a room alone.
- Retail, museums and libraries: No density limits.
- Restaurants: Indoor seating up to 50 percent capacity, or 75 percent if the restaurant meets heightened ventilation standards. Chairs can now be spaced three feet apart, rather than six. Restaurants will also be allowed to serve alcohol without food.
- Gyms and indoor pools: 50 percent capacity, with three feet of distancing between groups.
- Indoor gatherings and theaters: 50 percent capacity, with three feet of distancing between groups.
- Catered outdoor events: 50 percent capacity, with no maximum occupancy.
- Catered indoor events: 25 percent capacity, with a maximum occupancy of 125 people.
Once June 11th rolls around, those restrictions will be gone, too, and we’ll be left with just one rule: the citywide mask mandate, which applies to wearing masks while in public. (The CDC offers the same general guidelines, while noting that it’s okay to take maskless walks outdoors if you’re fully vaccinated.) Farley says the mask mandate will remain in place for now because, even as vaccination rates increase, he isn’t sure whether the falling case counts are a direct result of vaccinations, or if they’re simply part of the virus’ seasonal pattern of circulation. “If we have more evidence that the vaccine is reason for that, then we can feel comfortable that we can don’t need masks,” he says.
For now, though, Farley says masking in public should remain the norm. But he also struck an optimistic note: For the first time in more than a year, businesses will soon have no restrictions on how they operate. “I sincerely hope,” Farley says, “this represents gradual end of the pandemic.”