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May 27, 2020

Outdoor dining permitted at restaurants in Philly, suburbs beginning June 5 with plenty of restrictions

For the time being, no standing at bars, no self-serve condiments and bring face masks

Restaurants Coronavirus
Outdoor dining Pennsylvania Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

This file photo from April 2019 shows diners seated outside Parc on Rittenhouse Square. When Philadelphia and the suburbs move to the yellow phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions on June 5, outdoor dining will be permitted with some rules.

Dine-in service in outdoor seating areas will be allowed for those Pennsylvania restaurants, bars, and retail food businesses in counties that on June 5 advance to the yellow phase on state's plan to emerge from coronavirus restrictions.

But there will still be lots of rules in place, as detailed by Gov. Tom Wolf's administration on Wednesday.

LATEST: Philly officials caution outdoor dining serving could be delayed

Among them, restaurants must strictly manage capacity limits, customers must be seated at tables and indoor areas must remain closed to customers except for through-traffic. Self-service of food and drinks – such as buffets, salad bars, and condiment and stations – are prohibited.

Condiments will not be placed on tables. Instead they will be dispensed by restaurant employees upon request. Reusable menus are prohibited, and the refilling of food and beverage containers is not allowed.

Customers will be required to wear masks while entering, exiting and otherwise traveling throughout the restaurant. Face coverings may be removed while seated. At least one employee at each restaurant must be assigned to frequently clean high-touch areas, like doors, bathroom surfaces, host stands, tabletops and check presenters. Physical guides, like tape lines on the floors, must be used to keep customers 6 feet apart while waiting to be seated or wait inline for the restroom.

And restaurant owners must provide non-medical masks to employees and make it mandatory that employees wear them at all times. To read the complete list of restaurant guidelines developed by Harrisburg and the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, scroll to the end of this article.

Philadelphia and the surrounding suburban counties are currently in the red phase of Pennsylvania's reopening plan, which only permits restaurants and bars to provide carry-out and delivery services.

The counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania are set to move into the yellow phase on June 5. At that time, all 67 Pennsylvania counties will have exited from the red phase of the COVID-19 crisis. Eighteen counties that have proceeded to the yellow phase earlier will enter the green phase Friday, May 29, the same day that eight other counties will move from red to yellow. 

On Wednesday, two popular outdoor beer gardens in Philadelphia — Harper's Garden and Morgan's Pier — said they have began taking reservations for outdoor seating beginning next Friday.

Gov. Wolf said Wednesday that indoor dining with safety measures will be permitted in green phase counties on Friday when the commonwealth's stay-at-home order is lifted. Restaurants and bars providing in green phase counties will have capacity limits and will not be allowed to have customers standing in bar areas.

Seating at bars is permitted but customers must remain 6 feet apart from on another. Groups of people with a "common relationship" may sit closer to one another at bars, but they must remain 6 feet apart from other groups or individuals at the bar.

Wolf also provided guidance on Wednesday for other businesses in green phase counties. Personal care services such as hair salons and barber shops can operate by appointment-only, reservations are highly encouraged for gyms and spas, and gatherings of more than 250 people are prohibited. That includes concerts, festivals, sporting events, and fairs, Wolf said.

Such limitations don't apply to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other houses of worship, which are encouraged to enforce social distancing and require worshipers to wear of face coverings religious proceedings.

Hospitals and prisons will have full discretion about permitting visitors, and nursing home visitations remain prohibited. No business is required to conduct in-person operations and should not if unable to do so, Wolf said.

The Wolf administration first unveiled its color-coded plan for Pennsylvania to emerge from coronavirus restrictions in April.

Philadelphia reported 237 more positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the city's total up to 21,975. The city reported an additional five fatalities due to COVID-19, increasing the death toll due to the virus to 1,248.

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