COVID-19: Safer At Home Restrictions begin this week

Written by on November 16, 2020

Philadelphia announces new “Safer at Home” restrictions, starting Friday, November 20th, to fight rising COVID-19 cases

This Friday, Philadelphians should prepare for new restrictions for about 6 weeks to help reduce the increase in coronavirus cases. The new “Safer at Home” restrictions will begin on Friday, November 20 and will remain in place through January 1, 2021. An extension of these restrictions and/or the implementation of additional restrictions is possible depending on trends in the spread of coronavirus in the city. Key changes to Philadelphia’s restrictions are outlined below. Full guidance will be posted on the City’s website.

Changes to events and gatherings include:

  • All indoor gatherings and events involving people from more than one household are prohibited, in public or private spaces. This includes private events such as weddings and showers, listed as “celebrations” in previous guidance, as well as funerals. 
  • Religious institutions are permitted to have people indoors, but density must be capped at 5 people per 1,000 sq. ft. or 5 percent of maximum occupancy. 
  • Outdoor gatherings and events are limited to 10 percent of maximum capacity of the space, or 10 people per 1,000 sq. ft. for venues with an undefined maximum capacity—not to exceed 2,000 people in any outdoor space. In addition, all individuals at outdoor gatherings must wear masks at all times, and—to reinforce mask use—neither food nor beverages may be served.

The following businesses and activities will not be allowed:

  • High schools and colleges must move to online instruction only, with the exception of clinical instruction for students in health sciences. 
  • Indoor dining at restaurants and other food service businesses. (Takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining may continue. Additional restrictions on outdoor dining are detailed below.) 
  • Theaters, including movie theaters, and other performance spaces. 
  • Bowling alleys, arcades, and game spaces.
  • Museums.
  • Libraries. (Those serving as Access Centers may continue to operate. Curbside dropoff and pickup services for patrons are allowed.)
  • Casinos.
  • Recreational activities and sports for youth, community groups, and schools. 
  • Gyms and indoor exercise classes. (Exercise groups and classes may continue outdoors.)
  • Senior day services (senior centers and adult day care centers) remain closed.

Additional changes to capacity limits and other precautions will be instituted for businesses and activities that are able to continue:

  • Restaurants offering outdoor dining must reduce table sizes to four people. Guidance will make it clear that groups dining outdoors should be household members only, because mixing different households promotes community-wide spread.  
  • Retail stores and indoor malls may continue to operate, but with a maximum density of 5 people per 1,000 square feet. The City will require these stores to enforce mask use and distancing of customers and staff.  
  • Offices are permitted to have only employees that cannot work remotely.
  • Barbershops, beauty salons, and similar personal services may continue to operate, but all staff and customers must wear masks at all times. These businesses cannot work on the face or otherwise perform services that require that masks be removed.
  • College sports may continue if their plan is specifically approved by the Department of Public Health and no spectators are present. 
  • Zoos may operate only their outdoor areas. 
  • Parks, trails, playgrounds, and athletic fields will remain open for individual use only. (No group sports.) 

The following businesses and activities can continue to function under current guidance from the Department of Public Health:

  • Grocery stores and farmers markets.
  • Pharmacies.
  • Banks. 
  • Construction.
  • Landscaping.
  • Home-based construction, renovation, repair, and maintenance.
  • Manufacturing and warehousing.
  • Real estate operations and transactions.
  • Health care services.
  • Home-based support services, such as home health services.
  • Taxis and ride share services.
  • Transit.
  • Outdoor mobile food carts and trucks.
  • Hotels.
  • Drive-in events in which people remain in their vehicles.
  • Child day care and early learning centers.
  • Elementary and middle schools.
  • Access Centers for children in elementary and middle school.

Businesses with questions about how to comply with the new restrictions should contact the Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Services at business@phila.gov or 215-683-2100. 

To report a business or other institution that is not following the City’s COVID-19 restrictions, residents can call 3-1-1 or submit a request on Philly 311’s website.

Testing Site Map: A testing site finder at phila.gov/testing helps people find a free COVID-19 test in Philadelphia. Anyone can search for a site by address, click on a map location for specific site information, and filter by day of week and by drive-thru or walk-up.

COVID-19 Resources:

The PHL COVID-19 Fund continues to solicit donations to aid nonprofits that are on the frontline of the pandemic.

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