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April 30, 2021

Outdoor dining in Philadelphia may soon include live entertainment

Government Entertainment
Outdoor Entertainment Permit Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Philly restaurants would be permitted to host outdoor entertainment under new legislation passed by City Council. Above, patrons dine outside in Center City before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philadelphia restaurants and bars soon may be able to offer outdoor entertainment thanks to a bill passed by City Council this week. 

Businesses that already have temporary outdoor use permits or sidewalk permits would be able to apply for an additional outdoor entertainment permit — a move city council hopes will draw more customers to local businesses in the summer months. 

"Our restaurants continue to work tirelessly to make it through this pandemic," said Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, the bill's sponsor. "We need to continue to be innovative to create solutions that allow business owners to operate safely, and (this legislation) does that."

Outdoor entertainment could include everything from musicians to theatrical performances, according to the bill. Adult cabarets, however, are not permitted outside.

Restaurants would need to notify the city at least 72 hours prior to any entertainment, as only two performances per block would be permitted at any given time. Performers would be required to wear masks unless they stood more than 20 feet away from the public or behind a plexiglass barrier. 

Entertainment venues, restaurants and bars are supportive of the bill. Visit Philadelphia CEO Jeff Guaracino said the outdoor entertainment permits would help the tourism and hospitality industries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Not only will the timely ordinance support the vitality of local restaurants and restore industry jobs, but it will also increase foot traffic to our city's diverse small businesses, retail shops, attractions and other adjacent neighborhood entities," he said. "Through creative solutions such as the Outdoor Entertainment Bill, we can work together to ensure that Philadelphia emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever."

Dining restrictions recently relaxed in Philadelphia, and restaurants and bars now can increase outdoor capacity to more than 50 people at a given time. Beginning May 7, indoor dining capacity will increase to 50%, though restaurants that have met the city's ventilation standards can increase to 75%. 

Establishments also are now allowed to offer limited bar seating for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

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