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Philadelphia's Loosened COVID-19 Restrictions On Dining Comes Just In Time For Center City District Restaurant Week

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There is some good news in the fight against COVID-19. Philadelphia health officials say case counts, deaths, and positivity rates are going down.

Philadelphia is also loosening some restrictions. The news comes just in time for the Center City District Restaurant Week. Restaurant owners say things are finally looking up.

"We're psyched. It's happening slowly and hopefully, safely more than anything else," Garces Group Chef Proprietor Jose Garces said.

The Olde Car in Old City is hoping for a new lease on life. The restaurant is preparing for Center City District Restaurant Week, which is scheduled for Monday, May 17 through Friday, May 28.

"The nod from the city saying 'hey, we trust you guys to do this the right way' and we're going to follow all guidelines, social distance, keep tables spread, do the best we can to make it a safe environment," Garces said.

Over 60 restaurants throughout Center City are taking part, and it couldn't come at a better time.

"This epidemic wave may be starting to decline," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.

Farley says case counts, positivity rates, hospitalizations, and deaths are all down in Philadelphia. They're also down across the tri-state and the rest of the country.

"The fact that it's declining in the region is a hopeful sign for Philadelphia," Farley said.

Beginning May 7, restaurants can increase indoor capacity from 50% to 75% if they are following increased ventilation standards. People who are dining outside can now have up to 10 people per table. Indoor catered social events like weddings can also resume but no more than 25% capacity, or 75 people.

The changes bring the city closer to the state's restrictions, but with new allowances come new responsibilities.

"With these changes, I want to make this strong recommendation," Farley said. "It's not a requirement, but it's a strong recommendation: anyone participating in these higher-risk or higher density events should be vaccinated first."

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