*info courtesy of Jeff Levy, PHEA executive director

Philadelphia will finally lift its indoor dining ban after Labor Day. Here is what you need to know.

The PHEA reported last week that Mayor Kenney was lifting its indoor dining ban in Philadelphia, which allows restaurants and bars to reopen on September 8, 2020. The reopening restrictions, whichwere reported on June 9, 2020, Mayor Kenney added additional, restrictions which are outlined in the below header Restriction.

The PHEA communicates weekly with local and state officials

Since the inception of COVID-19, all 50 states have mobilized their resources trying to control the virus outbreak.

Every state created an emergency protocol from a shelter in place to the complete closure of nonessential businesses.

Many states, including Pennsylvania, use a Critical Metric Criteria (CMC) system to determine how to reopen their economies. As infection and death rates declined, states reopened nonessential businesses with stringent restrictions.

State and local government utilized so many different agencies to regulate and control the virus and businesses it created massive confusion when implementing rules, regulations, and law enforcement. Many governmental agency’s both local and state, are trying their best to assist the onslaught of businesses seeking the correct information.

Often, when I asked questions looking for answers vital to the reopening of our industry from the governor’s office to the Mayor’s offices, the staffer who are assigned to interpret the rules, regulations, and law enforcement will say “I have no idea”, “no one told them,” “call another agency”, or they would say “it’s just massive confusion and chaos and no one knows.”

The most accurate and consistent information I receive comes from Captain Jones, with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in Harrisburg. And the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Governor Wolf placed the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in charge as a clearinghouse for information relating to COVID-19, businesses, and the community. The Department of Community and Economic Development informs the PHEA when there is funding available for businesses.

If the Department of Community and Economic Development does not have an answer to my query, they will find it and call or email me back promptly.

Mr. Eric Langan, CEO of Rick’s, advised me that Governor Wolf’s website, which states- Clean Indoor Air Act, 35 P.S. § 637.2, is prohibited from conducting operations during COVID-19. Nightclubs and Adult Nightclub entertainment is listed under the indoor air act and does not allow for any nightclub to open September 8, 2020. I am grateful that Eric brought this information to my attention. I would not want establishments to open when they did not have an R License.

Adult nightclubs may reopen on September 8, 2020, if the establishment has an R license, meaning the establishment serves food and liquor. The establishment must have all their permits, which are valid and up to date.

Sneeze Guards are Required

The PHEA reported in June 2020 that sneeze guards needed to be installed at the front door receptionist area. Please click the below link, which is a vendor who supplies Sneeze Guards. If you have another vendor you should use them. The below was to show examples and how they look.


Key elements of the dining restrictions include:

  • Restaurants cannot be filled to more than 25% capacity.
  • No more than four diners per table.
  • Tables must be arranged so that diners at separate tables are at least six feet apart or have an impermeable barrier between them.

The indoor dining ban will lift a day after Labor Day to avoid holiday crowds, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. Indoor dining has been banned since mid-March when a spike of Covid-19 cases began to sweep through Philadelphia and the nation.

“Let’s not push the envelope,” Mayor Jim Kenney said during a press conference Thursday. “Let’s follow the rules as we’ve been following the rules for quite some time.”

Restaurant owners are also being urged to increase ventilation in their establishments to further decrease the risk of Covid-19 transmission. Outdoor dining can continue under current restrictions, including having no more than 50 people outside.

The PHEA established a safety protocol list called PHEA reopen Complete opening protocol.


“If [inspectors] find that diners are crowded together, or the staff are not wearing masks and not wearing face shields, we will be quick to close those restaurants,” Farley said.

Other restrictions will include:

  • Servers must wear both masks and face shields for additional protection.
  • No bar service. Alcohol can be served only for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal.
  • The last call for all indoor dining orders will be at 11 p.m., And establishments will be required to be closed for service by midnight.
  • Restaurants must install physical barriers such as sneeze guards or partitions in restaurant kitchens, and at cash registers, host stands, and food pick-up areas where maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet is difficult.
  • Restaurants must screen every employee for symptoms before every shift and prevent them from remaining on-site if they have a cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, or new loss of taste or smell.

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