PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Gov. Tom Wolf is easing more restrictions across Pennsylvania. Wolf says restaurants will be allowed to provide outdoor dining for customers, beginning June 5.
That’s when all remaining counties move to the yellow phase of the commonwealth’s coronavirus reopening plan, including Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.
The outdoor seating areas must strictly adhere to social distancing guidance, including maximum occupancy limits.
- Indoor areas, including bar areas, of restaurants and retail food service businesses must be closed to customers except for through-traffic. Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.
- Customers being served must be seated at a table.
The following will not be permitted:
- Self-service food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, condiments, and drink stations.
- Condiments on tables; these must be dispensed by employees upon the request of a customer.
- Reusable menus.
- Refilling food and beverage containers or allowing implements brought in by customers.
The counties going to the green phase can have both indoor and outdoor dining, as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Bar seating may be utilized if customers are seated and comply with physical distancing guidelines of at least six feet or physical barriers between customers. Standing in a bar area will not be permitted.
A maximum of four customers that have a common relationship may sit together at the bar.
“On March 16, our whole lives got turned upside down,” said Bonnie Garbinski, general manager of American Sardine Bar in Pointe Breeze.
That’s when nonessential businesses, including all restaurants, were forced to shut down because of the pandemic.
“We had to basically just reinvent our entire business model,” Garbinski said.
Restaurants transitioned to all takeout or delivery options. But now, a new date means restaurants in Philadelphia could take a turn back toward normal.
“It’s exciting. It’s just such a huge sigh of relief to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and to be able get back to doing what we know how to do best,” Garbinski said. “It’s a huge step forward. I was really hoping for it, but I was not sure when it was going to come. This is a huge relief.”
Wolf also says professional sports teams will be allowed to practice or play in the yellow and green phases of reopening without fans once the team or the league has developed a COVID-19 safety plan. The plan must be approved by the Pennsylvania Health Department and there must be testing or screening and monitoring of all on-venue players and personnel.
Philadelphia officials are closely watching daily infection rates to ensure a June 5 transition to yellow can happen.
Coronavirus cases in the commonwealth have topped 69,000 as the death toll climbed above 5,200.
CBS3’s Greg Argos contributed to this report.