PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Restaurants in Philadelphia now have the green light to reopen for indoor dining on Sept. 8. The news was unexpected, but welcome to small, family-run restaurants like Cafe Nhan in South Philadelphia.
“I can’t wait! I miss seeing bodies and faces happy and eating our food. It’s different when you have hot soup to go,” owner and chef Andrew DinhVo said.
The 30-seat Vietnamese eatery doesn’t have outdoor seating but managed to stay open for the past five months during the pandemic thanks to steady takeout orders.
“We couldn’t afford to close, we’re such a small restaurant,” DinhVo said. “We only survived because of the love of the community and the love of friends and family.”
Though many restaurants are celebrating, there will be significant restrictions. Indoor capacity will be capped at 25%, with a maximum of four people per table.
Servers will be required to wear face masks and face shields, and patrons must wear masks when they’re not seated at a table. Bar seating is not permitted and any alcohol must be served with a meal.
Last call for all indoor dining orders will be at 11 p.m., and restaurants must close for service by midnight.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says the city will be sending inspectors out to make sure restaurants are compliant.
“If they find that diners are crowded together and staff are not wearing masks and not wearing face shields, we will be quick to close restaurants,” he said.
The timing couldn’t be better for Center City Restaurant Week, which was already set for Sept. 13-25. More than 70 restaurants signed up to participate even before the city’s big announcement.
“We are thrilled with the decision the city made. Of course, there are lots of people that would have liked to see it sooner, but we think it was important that the city was very cautious,” said Michelle Shannon, vice president of marketing and events for the Center City District.
You can see a list of participating restaurants here.