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October 06, 2020

Pennsylvania permits sports stadiums, concert venues to bring back fans

But the state's relaxed COVID-19 restrictions do not supersede Philly's gathering limits

Government Coronavirus
PA Stadiums Fans COVID-19 Kate Frese/For PhillyVoice

Despite Pennsylvania relaxing its limits on public gatherings, the Eagles will not be able to bring back fans to Lincoln Financial Field until the city eases its own restrictions.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will allow 5,500 fans into Heinz Field for Sunday's game against the Eagles after Gov. Tom Wolf loosened the state's gathering restrictions. 

But it's unclear whether Philadelphia officials will permit fans to enter Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 18, the next time the Eagles play at home. The relaxed COVID-19 restrictions do not supersede gatherings limits implemented by local authorities, such as Philadelphia.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said city officials are still reviewing Pennsylvania’s updated protocols, which also affect concert and entertainment venues. They will decide whether to ease their own restrictions by next week. 

The state's new guidelines allow outdoor venues with capacities over 10,000 people to reopen at 15% occupancy, or no more than 7,500 people. Venues with capacities ranging from 2,001 to 10,000 people can allow 20% occupancy. Smaller venues can allow up to 25% occupancy. 

The guidelines for indoor venues are more strict. The largest indoor venues – those with capacities greater than 10,000 people – can permit up to 10% occupancy or no more than 3,750 people. Smaller venues are capped at 15% or 10% capacity based on their capacities.

All venues must require attendees to practice social distancing and wear face masks. Additional health and safety protocols, such as staggered arrival times, multiple entry and exit points, multiple bathrooms and hand sanitizer stations, should be implemented.

"Regardless of the size of an event or gathering, those things are still imperative to stopping the spread of COVID," Gov. Tom Wolf said. "We know everyone has sacrificed in many ways and today’s announcement reflects a gradual adjustment to our lives as we learn how we can do things safely until we have a cure, or an effective vaccine is widely available."

The loosened restrictions do not apply to groups of people who regularly share common space, such as an office building, classroom or business, are not considered events or gatherings. 

The state's guidelines consider events and gatherings as "a temporary grouping of individuals for defined purposes that takes place over a limited timeframe, such as hours or days, including fairs, festivals, concerts, or shows and groupings that occur within larger, more permanent businesses, such as shows or performances within amusement parks, individual showings of movies, business meetings or conferences, or each party or reception within a multi-room venue." 

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said state officials will dial back the ease restrictions if contact tracing efforts determine that events are the source of a coronavirus outbreak. 

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