PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia will ease more of its COVID-19 restrictions next week, officials announced Tuesday. Starting Friday, May 21, there will no longer be density limits in retail stores, museums, libraries and offices — this means employers can start having people come back to offices for work if they choose.
Theaters and other gatherings with fixed seating indoors and outdoors will increase to 50% capacity with a minimum of three feet distance between persons of different groups.READ MORE: Man Shot, Killed Inside West Philadelphia Corner Store, Police Say
Restaurants will stay at a 50% capacity, or 75% capacity if they meet enhanced ventilation standards, but now there will be a minimum of three feet between chair back to chair back, allowing for more customers.
The city is also ending the requirement that food must be purchased to serve alcohol.
There will be no maximum number of persons allowed at outdoor catered events, but indoor catered events are still considered risky. They will be capped at 25% occupancy or 150 people.
City officials say they will drop the required limits on the number of people or activities in any setting on June 11, but masks will still be required unless eating or drinking.
As we look forward to our recovery, which will be a strong one, we have to stay mindful that the pandemic is not over,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.READ MORE: Philadelphia High School Works To Return Native American Remains
Officials want to remind Philadelphians of guidance, which are recommendations, not requirements, to help people stay safe.
“Although we paid a price with restrictions I believe it was worth it. To every Philadelphia resident who has suffered from the shutdown I want to say I’m sorry we all had to go through this but from the bottom of my heart, thank you for doing your part to save the lives of others,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
Philadelphians should continue to wear masks and should not attend crowded indoor settings unless vaccinated.
“While today’s news marks a momentous turning point in our fight against this virus, please remember to stay vigilant and responsible,” Kenney said.
Health officials say Philadelphia has been more restrictive than the rest of the state because the city’s population is more vulnerable to the virus.
Click here if you are interested in receiving your COVID-19 vaccine but have yet to make an appointment.MORE NEWS: Jimmy's Timeout Sports Pub In Northeast Philadelphia Offering Half-Priced Cheesesteaks Until Ben Simmons Is Traded
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl contributed to this report.