More News:

April 24, 2021

Philly to permit limited bar seating at restaurants

Eateries with outdoor dining service can also increase capacity to more than 50 people at a time as the warm weather months return

Business Restaurants
Philadelphia bar seating Pavel Danilyuk/

Philadelphia had prohibited bar seating for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the increased risk of the virus spreading.

Philadelphia is easing some restrictions on outdoor dining service and bar seating in an effort to give struggling restaurants a boost amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Establishments that have bars may now allow limited bar seating for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said Friday.

Groups of four or fewer people from the same household can sit together at the bar. However, a barrier or six feet of distance must be implemented between groups. Barriers must be established between patrons and the bartender too.

Restaurants that offer outdoor dining service are now permitted to increase capacity above 50 people at a time as the warm weather months arrive. Tables must continue to remain at least six feet apart at all times to enforce social distancing.

Eateries that are interested in expanding their outdoor dining footprint must complete and submit an application to the city. Restaurants must also provide the city with a diagram of the seating area. Health officials will then inspect the establishment's outdoor setup.

Both updates took effect immediately in order to help these businesses stay open while preventing any additional spread of the virus, Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley said.

"These are small adjustments that we hope are useful to the restaurants," Farley said.

Despite the recent uptick in COVID-19 infections in Philly, Farley said that the city is having ongoing discussions with restaurants over its indoor and outdoor dining restrictions. 

More information on restrictions regarding restaurants and other sites will be unveiled this Tuesday, Farley said.

Farley said earlier this week that the city's high number of COVID-19 infections would keep Philly's current pandemic restrictions largely in place through the end of April.

Bar seating had been banned across Philadelphia since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. When Pennsylvania allowed bar seating to resume earlier this month and restaurants to increase indoor dining capacities to 75%, the city decided not to follow the state's updated guidelines due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

Outdoor dining resumed in Philly last June with a number of coronavirus health and safety protocols in place. 

Indoor dining service returned across the city last September. But it was quickly shut down again in November as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed across the city. Indoor dining service later resumed in January.

Restaurants are allowed to serve up to 25% of their maximum occupancy for indoor dining, or up to 50% capacity if they are able to meet the health department's ventilation standards

Tables have to be kept at least six feet apart and no more than four guests can be seated together. Customers must wear masks at all times except when seated.

Follow Pat & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @Pat_Ralph | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice
Add Pat's RSS feed to your feed reader
Have a news tip? Let us know.