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COVID In Philadelphia: City Allowing Restaurants To Resume Indoor Dining After Rolling Back Some Restrictions

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia officials are allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining in the city after rolling back some coronavirus restrictions. Theaters will also be allowed to open as the restrictions will be lifted Saturday, Jan. 16.

Both must follow capacity rules.

The city also released Tuesday more detailed information on who would be included in the next phase of vaccinations.

There has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the city related to holiday gatherings. The numbers are expected to stay high through the winter, but city health officials are expecting some limited improvements, which is why they're limiting restrictions this weekend.

"Our sense is, things are probably going to get better with the epidemic from here, so we're trying to allow some economic activity to take place," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.

The health commissioner says restaurants will be allowed to reopen Saturday with 25% capacity. Tables will be limited to four people from the same household.

The city is also recommending that restaurants work to improve ventilation to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

"We are trying to strike a balance between protecting people from COVID and limiting the downside of restrictions," Dr. Farley said.

Theaters will be allowed to reopen at 10% capacity, with no food or drink permitted. Colleges can also resume in-person instruction, but there are still restrictions against social gatherings, which is a primary way the virus is spreading.

"That means no indoor gatherings, no parties, friends over, relatives over, no sleepovers for kids and avoid travel," Dr. Farley said.

Dr. Farley also said the next phase of vaccinations, 1B, would probably start at the end of January. That will include people over the age of 75, teachers, first responders, retail workers and public transit operators.

"The local list differs from the federal and commonwealth list, in the people under age 74 who have this high-risk medical conditions, are in phase 1B instead of phase 1C. Why is that? That's because these medical conditions are common in low-income populations and minority populations," the health commissioner explained. "We have higher rates of them here in Philadelphia than elsewhere, it's a more important risk factor here and this is one way for us to address the racial disparity and COVID mortality here in Philadelphia."

Dr. Farley said the vaccinations will be available in a variety of locations, including pharmacies and mass vaccination sites.

He also says planning is challenging because of limited information from the federal government and they're not getting enough vaccine to meet the demand.


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