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Philadelphia, St. Louis suspend dine-in service

Philadelphia has also imposed new restrictions on outdoor dining and feeding gatherings.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Philadelphia, Pa., and St. Louis County, Mo., have joined the fast-growing list of jurisdictions that are suspending indoor restaurant dining because of skyrocketing coronavirus infection rates.

Philadelphia has taken the additional step of prohibiting more than four people from occupying an outdoor table at any time, and all must be from the same household. For outdoor gatherings elsewhere, such as a party hosted in a yard or apartment courtyard, eating and drinking are prohibited, effectively eliminating the possibility of catering.

The suspension of onsite dining and limitations on outdoor eating begins Friday and will last for at least six weeks, according to Mayor Jim Kenney. Restaurants will be allowed to continue offering takeout and delivery.

Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf, is scheduled to air new COVID-19 safety protocols later this week. It is unclear if new restrictions will be placed on restaurants.

St. Louis County's suspension of indoor dining began Monday. Restaurants there can continue to provide outdoor table service in addition to to-go sales

The moves are the latest in a fast-growing second wave of dining-room shutdowns. Five states and a number of major cities, including Chicago and San Francisco, have already suspended indoor seating. New Mexico and Oregon have also suspended outdoor dining.

“We hope to get the curve down to where we can reopen again,” Kenney said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

The announcement was met with apparent resignation on the part of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA), which used the occasion to call for a resumption of federal assistance to the industry.

"The PRLA's priority is our members' health and safety, their employees, and the guests they serve. This priority extends to the financial well-being of restaurants and hospitality employees," CEO John Longstreet said in a statement. "Despite long-gone initial P[Paycheck Protection Program] resources and individual emotional exhaustion as restaurants continue to struggle daily for survival in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania, the hospitality industry, in particular, finds itself in a literal and economic ‘do or die situation’. We emphatically implore the Mayor’s and Governor’s offices for swift and immediate action to be taken to ease the financial hardship and pain that has devastated the industry and its employees."

Clarification: Although St. Louis County encompasses the city of St. Louis, the two areas are actually separate jurisdictions. Indoor dining continues to be offered within the city but not in the county.


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