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March 17, 2020

What are Philly's essential and non-essential businesses during coronavirus restrictions?

City provides resources and guidance to business owners amid COVID-19 crisis

Health News Coronavirus
Philly Essential Businesses Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia's restrictions on non-essential businesses during the coronavirus crisis will be in place at least through March 27, 2020. The city has provided guidelines and resources for business owners to seek relief and determine how the restrictions will affect them.

Philadelphia joined municipalities across the United States this week in ordering the closure of all non-essential businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The restriction on commercial activity will run at least through March 27, putting business owners and workers in a perilous situation as the city tries to contain the spread of COVID-19.

While much of the focus has been on dining and entertainment venues, city officials have outlined exactly which businesses are considered essential and non-essential.

Essential Retail Businesses

Philadelphians will still be able to access essential goods in the next two weeks. The following businesses can remain open if they choose to:

• Supermarkets and grocery stores
• Big box stores
• Pharmacies
• Discount stores, mini-markets, and non-specialized food stores
• Hardware stores
• Gas stations
• Banks
• Post Offices
• Laundromats and dry cleaners
• Veterinary clinics for domestic pets and pet stores
• News organizations
• Drive-through businesses
• Hotels
• Home/Commercial building repairs
• Bike shops, rideshare (Uber/Lyft) considered essential for transportation
• Daycare centers are considered non-essential, but can remain open with a waiver from the State.
• Food establishments can accept online and phone orders for delivery and pick-up only. Dine-in service will not be allowed for the duration of the restrictions.

Essential Manufacturing/Distribution Businesses

Businesses that also manufacture, distribute or sell any of the following are considered essential and can remain open if they choose to:

• Frozen products
• Non-specialized stores of computers, telecommunications equipment, audio and video consumer electronics, and household appliances
• IT and telecommunication equipment
• Hardware, paint, and flat glass
• Electrical, plumbing and heating material
• Automotive fuel
• Domestic fuel
• Sanitary equipment
• Personal hygiene products
• Medication not requiring medical prescription
• Medical and orthopedic equipment suppliers
• Optics and photography equipment
• Soaps and detergents

Officials also have clarified that construction sites will be considered essential during the period of the restrictions.

Businesses not included in the lists above should refer to the latest guidance from the health commissioner. These include infrastructure and industrial businesses, as well as health care and social services.

A variety of resources and assistance are available to provide relief to businesses during this period.

• PECO is suspending fees for delays in bills and service shut offs for the next three months
• Philadelphia Gas Works and Philadelphia Water Department will also suspend service shut offs
• KIVA has increased size of no interest loans available
• Impact Loan Fund is preparing to offer a payment moratorium to businesses in need
• Philly VIP will continue to remotely match businesses with Pro Bono legal services
• The Business Center is offering its courses online, and encourages businesses in need of assistance in moving services online to contact them

The city and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation are working together on a program to support small businesses, including a mix of new grants and zero-interest loans for those that make under $5 million in annual revenue. Help also will be provided with maintaining payroll obligations and preserving jobs impacted by the spread of COVID-19.

Philadelphia is asking business owners to complete a brief survey to help the city understand the impact of COVID-19.

Businesses that need help determining if they are considered essential or non-essential are asked to email Business owners who would like to receive information about business relief programs can email

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