Today, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announced that with vaccination rates going up and COVID-19 cases in the state trending downward, restaurants will be able to increase indoor dining to 75 percent capacity, starting on Sunday, April 4. The previous cap had been at 50 percent for restaurants that self-certified as COVID-compliant, according to state rules.
The new rules for Pennsylvania restaurants are below, though it’s important to note that restaurants within the boundaries of Philadelphia county adhere to independent city guidelines. The current indoor dining cap in Philadelphia is at 50 percent for restaurants that pass a city-mandated ventilation inspection, and 25 percent for all others.
For the state of Pennsylvania, here is the latest change to take effect on April 4:
Restaurants may resume bar service
Alcohol service will be allowed without the purchase of food
There will be no more curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables
Indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75 percent for restaurants that undergo (or have undergone) a self-certification process, wherein restaurants commit to complying with all public health COVID-19 safety guidelines set by the state; restaurants that are not self-certified may raise their capacity to 50 percent
Social distancing of six feet between diners and mask-wearing will still be enforced
Wolf said the fact that Pennsylvanians were “stepping up” to curb the spread of COVID-19 had spurred the changes to indoor dining guidelines. “We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” Wolf said in a release. “It’s time to allow our restaurants, bars and other service businesses to get back to more normal operations.” This is despite the fact that food service workers in the state are not eligible for the vaccine until the state enters phase 1c. The state is currently only in phase 1a, which applies to anyone over the age of 65, healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and people with high-risk conditions.
In Philadelphia, though restrictions remain the same, there are some hopeful changes coming for restaurant workers: a restaurant coalition group called Save Philly Restaurants held its first dedicated vaccine clinic for food service workers — who are eligible in Philadelphia now in the 1b phase — at Centennial Pharmacy in Fishtown on Monday. At the clinic today, 450 workers were vaccinated. They will continue appointments over the coming weeks. Eligible restaurant workers can sign up here.
Indoor dining is currently capped at 25 percent (or 50 percent if restaurants adhere to city-mandated ventilation guidelines) in Philly; for updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit here. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.