June 11, 2020
Philadelphia restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining starting Friday under guidelines established to promote safety during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The city entered the yellow phase of Pennsylvania's reopening plan last week, but delayed allowing outdoor dining to resume at city restaurants in order to resolve logistical issues in dense urban areas and to give extra time for restaurants that don't have readily available space to accommodate customers outside.
In order to support restaurants in every neighborhood, Philadelphia will permit all licensed businesses that comply with basic requirements to offer outdoor seating through the end of 2020.
Restaurants will be able to operate using one of four different models:
Sidewalk Cafe — Allows for daily use of sidewalk area in front of the business for restaurant seating.
Streetery — Allows for curbside parking at street level (or platform built on street) to be converted into outdoor dining or take-away area for food and beverages.
Temporary use of private lots for dining — Allows restaurants to convert spaces in their parking lots into restaurant seating and to place seating onto vacant lots in most commercial and mixed-use zoning districts.
Temporary Street Closure — Pilot program beginning this summer that allows for temporary closure of certain streets for shared restaurant seating.
Business owners may use the same application to register to create sidewalk cafes or streeteries. Separate applications will be required to participate in the pilot program for temporary street closures and to obtain temporary zoning approvals for restaurant seating in parking lots and on vacant lots.
All applications will be available online late Friday, with review beginning on Monday, June 15. Streetry and sidewalk cafe applications will take about three days to approve, and the approval of applications for private dining in lots and temporary street closures will take 5-10 days to be approved, city officials said.
Restaurants may apply for more than one type of license, and those already authorized to serve diners in patio areas or at sidewalk café can resume outdoor seating beginning right away on Friday.
Under all formats, restaurants must adhere to existing public safety and social distancing guidelines, as well as measures outlined by the health department about outdoor dining. Both documents can be viewed at the end of this article.
These are among the rules restaurants must follow:
• Spacing tables, and the backs of all chairs (when seated), a minimum of 6 feet apart.
• Maintaining pedestrian and traffic safety, including a clear path (6 feet wide) of travel for pedestrian flow.
• Maintaining clear access to public utilities, fire hydrants, building entrances, crosswalks, and transit stops.
• Hours of operation are limited to 8 a.m.–10 p.m.
• No heating, cooking or open flames in the right of way, except approved outdoor heaters.
• No food preparation in the public right of way.
• Appropriate lighting is required at night.
• Outdoor operations can be shut down if they are a nuisance to neighbors.
• Moveable furniture on streets and sidewalks must be labeled as property of the business and must be moved inside or secured to ground when not in use.
• Tents are prohibited, except in private lots.
• Establishments with fewer than 20 tables total must make at least one table ADA accessible. Establishments with more than 20 tables total must make 5% of tables ADA accessible.
• Deliveries and waste and recycling collections must be conducted safely and in a way that does not impact social distancing, ADA regulations, or safe circulation by pedestrians, bikes, or vehicles.
Restaurants or businesses that adopt outdoor dining must possess a Commercial Activity License and a Food Preparation and Serving License from the City of Philadelphia. They must also have insurance with a minimum $1 million liability policy.