PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia will lift most of its coronavirus restrictions one week earlier than originally planned. City officials said Friday its “Safer-at-Home” COVID-19 restrictions — including density limits, capacity limits, and social distancing rules — will be lifted on Wednesday, June 2.
The city said its indoor mask mandate and 11 p.m. curfew for dining will remain intact until June 11 but could be lifted if progress continues in the fight against COVID.READ MORE: Police: 2 Teens In Car Shot At Red Light In Philadelphia's Olney Neighborhood
City officials cited the COVID-19 percent positive rate falling below 3%, the lower number of COVID cases in the city since late September 2020 and continued vaccinations behind moving up the date.
“As more Philadelphians get vaccinated, COVID cases in Philadelphia have continued to drop, and positivity and hospitalizations remain low,” Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said. “These are encouraging signs that vaccination is truly turning the tide in Philadelphia. We still have work to do to reach all Philadelphians, but we also want people to celebrate the good parts of life that we get back by getting vaccinated.”
Philadelphia was originally scheduled to lift its restrictions on June 11.
Pennsylvania is lifting its restrictions on Monday.
Some business owners in Philadelphia say that while they appreciate the change going into effect earlier than expected, it doesn’t do much to help them this holiday weekend. For others, especially in the entertainment business, the change is right on time.
The Sixers and Wells Fargo Center said Friday that the arena will be allowed to host 100% capacity on Wednesday, the date of the team’s potential Game 5 against the Washington Wizards. Face masks will be required, Wells Fargo Center officials said.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to Mayor [Jim] Kenney and the Philadelphia Department of Health for the work they’ve done to safely increase capacity to 100% for all businesses, effective June 2,” Sixers President of Business Operations Chris Heck said in a statement. “There is no better time to welcome home our passionate and loyal fans than right now, in the midst of what we hope will be a historic playoff run. “Our fans provide a homecourt advantage that is both unmatched and necessary as we work to bring an NBA championship to Philadelphia. We also want to thank our partners at Comcast Spectacor for their hard work and resilience through the obstacles and challenges the pandemic has presented to our industry over the last year. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated and will continue to use our platform to educate and assist our community.”
The Phillies said Friday that they will increase capacity at Citizens Bank Park to 100% beginning on Friday, June 4, when they open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. The Phils were planning to hold a full ballpark on June 12, against the New York Yankees.
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The team said tailgating will be permitted in the parking lots south of Pattison Avenue. Masks will not be required in outdoor places at the park but will be in indoor spaces such as the Diamond Club and stores.
Hilarity can also ensue once again in front of a full live audience.
“There are people like myself who are very much looking forward to that in-the-moment response from the audience so you know what’s working and not working,” Mike Marbach, founder of Crossroads Comedy Theater, said.
Next Friday, there will be a weekend full of live comedy and improv at Crossroads Comedy Theater at South Philadelphia’s Theatre Exile.
For many performers, it will be their first time taking the stage since the start of the pandemic.
“It has been the arts that has gotten people through a lot of the last year,” Marbach said.
While restaurants would love to operate at 100% capacity when allowed on June 2, many owners told Eyewitness News that the continued struggle to find employees could prevent that.MORE NEWS: Wawa, 2SP Brewing Company Team Up For Sunfest Strawberry Lemonade Shandy Beer
Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.