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February 26, 2021

Relaxed COVID-19 restrictions may allow some Phillies fans to attend Opening Day

The city's new limits, which take effect Monday, are still too small to allow fans at Sixers and Flyers games

Government COVID-19
COVID-19 Phillies Restrictions Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia's COVID-19 restrictions will be eased on March 1, potentially allowing a limited number of fans to attend Phillies games for the first time since 2019.

Philadelphia officials are raising the city's gathering limits and lifting other COVID-19 restrictions in response to falling COVID-19 case counts.

But the new limits may not be high enough to accommodate Sixers and Flyers fans eager to support their teams at the Wells Fargo Center. 

The city's gathering limits for indoor and outdoor event venues will be raised Monday to the state's levels — 500 people indoors and 2,500 people outdoors, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Friday. Masks are required in both settings.

At the Wells Fargo Center, the 500-person limit will include players, coaches and building staff. That means having fans in the stands will be impossible until the state's limit is raised.

"Welcoming fans back to Wells Fargo Center would require more than 500 employees in the arena, so we're not able to do that with our capacity limited to only 500 people, but we are in direct communication with city and state officials to determine when we can further increase our capacity and welcome fans back to the arena," said Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the Wells Fargo Center.

If the state's limit is raised, the arena still will need to obtain approval from the state and the city to welcome back fans, Farley said.

But it appears a limited number of Phillies fans will be permitted inside Citizens Bank Park when the baseball season starts in April. An exact number above the players, coaches and stadium staff is still to be determined.

Here are the other restrictions that will be altered Monday: 

•Restaurants can allow up to six people at outdoor tables. Indoor tables will remain limited to four people. Capacity limits are not changing for either. 

•At retail stores, capacity limits will rise from 10 people per 1,000 square feet to 20 per 1,000 square feet.

•Movie theaters and performance venues will be expanded to state capacity limits and will be permitted to serve food. Diners are still limited to four people.

•Senior centers are permitted to reopen for the first time since the pandemic began. Attendees and staffers must wear a KN95 or double-mask by using surgical and cloth masks. 

•Religious services can increase from 10% capacity to 20%.

•Outdoor catered events, including weddings and other celebrations, can have a maximum of 100 people. Indoor catered events remain prohibited. 

•Other gatherings and events, including sporting events, are allowed to expand to state capacity limits.

Farley said he's hopeful that trends point toward further easing of restrictions, though he declined to predict a specific timeline.

"I'm optimistic about where we're going in the next few months," Farley said. "Most respiratory viruses get better in the spring and they hit their lowest in the summer. Then in addition to that, we've got the vaccination, which is scaling up nicely now. We have two things very strongly in our favor."