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COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Doctor Says Philadelphia 'Actually Doing A Really Good Thing' By Delaying Lifting Restrictions

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Temporary COVID-19 restrictions on some Pennsylvania businesses will soon be lifted in some parts of the commonwealth despite a rising tally of new coronavirus cases. The service and hospitality industries have been suffering, and come Monday, as promised, some will reopen, however, the City of Philadelphia is making a few exceptions.

Keeping up with restrictions and dates can be daunting, but hopefully, we're on the up and up. Starting Monday, gyms across the state of Pennsylvania will reopen.

"We're really looking forward to showing that businesses can safely reopen," Life Time Fitness Senior General Manager Miklos Horvath said. "We can put these measures in place."

If your New Year's resolution is to get back into a routine, that dream is just days away. In-person sports, afterschool activities, casinos, museums and theaters will also resume.

Indoor dining will also reopen in Pennsylvania, except in Philadelphia.

"Nothing compares to dine-in," Tamika Rodriguez, of North Philadelphia, said.

Philly restaurants will have to wait until Jan. 15 before customers can sit inside and be served.

"When you just buy something takeout and ear in the car or go home, it takes away from the fun of eating out," Frenchie Yancey said, "and then your food preparation is not the same but you're still being charged the same prices."

Casinos in the city can reopen on Monday, but serving food and beverages is prohibited.

Museums and libraries may also operate but they are subject to all safety requirements and guidelines.

Movie theaters, theaters, music and other performance venues, private clubs and other similar facilities are still prohibited.

The number of infections have been decreasing, but health officials anticipate cases will surge after the holiday.

"I do think that Philadelphia is actually doing a really good thing. I'll tell you why. We are starting to see people who have come back from vacation now saying, 'Can I be tested? I was just opposed to someone in another state and they're quarantining now,'" Dr. Rob Danoff, Director of the Jefferson Health Northeast COVID-19 testing center, said. "And we're concerned over the next two to four weeks, certainly the next two weeks, we may see an increase in the number of cases. And then in the next four weeks, in that period, we may see more hospitalizations. I think it was a really good move by the part of Philadelphia because they anticipated this travel."

With those expected hospitalizations, health officials welcome the pace that Philadelphia is taking so the city can safely reopen.

Dr. Danoff says the game-changers are the vaccines that have already been approved and the ones still being developed. But he says until then all we have is social distancing which appears to be working.

"Every time we socially isolate, as hard as it is, it does help buy us time. The other factor to consider is some of the hospitals were also missing personnel because they were out with COVID or symptoms," he said. "Now we're starting to get back to a better normal. The staff has been very stressed, you know no matter what position you have in the hospital it's been difficult. I've never seen hospitals this crowded in all my years."

The vaccines are still coming into the city. While it's at a slower pace than expected, the city is still receiving about 17,000 doses a week

CBS3's Alecia Reid and Howard Monroe contributed to this report.


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