PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is easing some restrictions ahead of June 5 when the city is expected to move to the “yellow” phase of Pennsylvania’s reopening plan. City officials announced Tuesday that restaurants and food trucks are now allowed to have walk-up ordering, but dine-in service is still not allowed.
The order went into effect immediately.
“This is what I consider to be the first step towards a new normal here,” Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
Restaurants and food trucks cannot have more than 10 customers in line and face coverings are required.
“As we continue to prepare for a phased reopening with the expectation our region will move to yellow on June 5, there is some steps we can take now to begin easing restrictions while we remain in red status,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Matt Rossi is the president of the Philadelphia Mobile Food Truck Association and an operator himself.
“For the last two-and-a-half months, none of our trucks have been operating,” he said.
That’s because food trucks were banned from operating even if they offered mobile ordering.
Rossi says Tuesday’s change is a welcomed relief to the dozens of mobile vendors throughout Philadelphia.
“It gets people back to a normal life. It allows them to allow them to start paying their bills and stop worrying so much,” Rossi said.
He also has a prediction with this new order.
“We’re food service. We’re resilient. We’ll figure this out and we’ll get through it. I think these vendors will get back on the street and they’ll hit it harder than ever,” he said.
The new order comes as 97 new cases were reported, bringing the citywide total to 21,738. Eight more people died from the virus, raising the city’s death toll to 1,243.
“That 97 number is the first time we’ve been in double digits in weeks. It wasn’t long ago that we were more than 500 cases a day, so that’s big decline from where we were,” Farley said.
With Philadelphia preparing to move to the “yellow” reopening phase by the end of next week, Farley says the city will soon release guidance for businesses and residents. Farley explained the plan will including reducing the number of people in one setting, involve areas to block the droplets that might carry the COVID-19 infection, spacing of people and mask wearing.
“What we’re trying to do is balance fighting this epidemic, on the one hand, with the economic damage of not allowing activities and I think that balance really does depend on businesses enforcing certain restrictions that would prevent the spread of infection,” Farley said.
The city is also expanding testing to people to anyone who have been exposed or think they may have been exposed to the coronavirus within the last seven days.
CBS3’s Greg Argos contributed to this report