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Philadelphia Orders Additional COVID-19 Restrictions For Businesses Through the New Year

December 10, 2020Alerts

On November 16, 2020, Philadelphia announced new “Safer at Home” restrictions effective from November 20, 2020 through January 1, 2021. The new restrictions from the City and Department of Public Health come in light of rising COVID-19 case numbers and are an attempt to flatten the curve.

Most notably, under the new restrictions:

  • Offices are permitted to be staffed only by employees who cannot work remotely.
  • Retail stores and indoor malls may continue to operate, but with a maximum density of five people per 1,000 square feet. The city will require these stores to enforce mask use and distancing of customers and staff. 
  • Indoor dining at restaurants and other food service businesses is prohibited, although takeout, delivery and outdoor dining (as restricted) may continue.
  • Indoor entertainment venues such as theaters, including movie theaters and other performance spaces; bowling alleys; arcades and game spaces; museums; libraries; and casinos must close. 
  • Barbershops, beauty salons and similar personal services may continue to operate, but all staff and customers must wear masks at all times.
  • Recreational activities and sports for youth, community groups and schools are suspended.
  • Gyms must close, and indoor exercise classes are prohibited.
  • Senior day services (senior centers and adult day care centers) remain closed.
  • 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.
  • Religious institutions and funeral homes are permitted to have people indoors, but density must be capped at 5 people per 1,000 sq. ft. or 5% of maximum occupancy.
  • Outdoor gatherings and events are limited to 10% 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.
  • High schools and colleges must move to online instruction only.

Although the new restrictions are scheduled to last until January 1, 2021, the city has stated it may extend these restrictions, or implement additional requirements, depending on the spread of the virus in the city. The city’s new restrictions apply in addition to the restrictions recently announced statewide by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

Where business activities are permitted, the city continues to encourage residents to take appropriate precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, minimizing crowds, social distancing, using physical barriers where appropriate, frequent hand-washing and disinfecting of surfaces, and continuing to communicate clearly about safety protocols.


We will continue to provide updates on new restrictions and legislation as it becomes available. For more information on this alert, please contact Catherine Barbieri at 215.299.2839 or [email protected], Brian McGinnis at [email protected] or 215.299.2042, or any member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Department.