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Philadelphia Announces Sweeping Coronavirus Restrictions For Restaurants, Indoor Gatherings As Daily Cases Jump 700% In Past 2 Months

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia officials announced Monday major restrictions for restaurants and businesses across the city as coronavirus cases surge. Starting Friday, indoor dining will be banned and gyms and museums will be closed.

The restrictions come as the number of daily COVID-19 cases in the city has jumped 700% in the past two months.

"The average number of reported positive cases of COVID-19 per day in Philadelphia has jumped at least 700% in two months," Mayor Jim Kenney said during a Monday afternoon press conference.

City officials acknowledge businesses will be closed and jobs lost because of the new restrictions but, they say, they're necessary to save lives.

"We have to take action now," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.

All indoor public and private gatherings in Philadelphia are being restricted.

"Please stay home, away from others as much as possible," Farley said. "Don't visit even friends and relatives."

Philadelphia officials unveiled sweeping new restrictions to stop the spiking number of COVID cases.

"We do not take any of this lightly and believe me, more than anything in the world, I wish none of this was necessary, but there's no doubt these changes are necessary," Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Starting Friday, Nov. 20, the city will prohibit:

  • youth and community sports
  • gyms
  • museums
  • libraries

Indoor dining at restaurants will be prohibited and outdoor dining will be limited to only four members of a household.

"To keep this virus from jumping from one household to another and people mixing without masks from different households is exactly how the virus does that," Farley said. "We can't enforce this but we are asking residents and restaurants: please, people eating outdoors without masks should be there with their household members only."

Remaining open with limits include:

  • retail stores
  • barbershops and salons
  • hotels
  • religious facilities.

People should work from home unless that's not possible.

"This will help ease the potential burden on our hospitals, it will help slow the spread of the virus and most importantly it will save lives," Kenney said.

With schools, colleges and high schools can be online only -- no in-person classes. However, elementary and middle schools will be allowed to stay open, along with childcare facilities.

"Children almost never get seriously ill from COVID and the education of children is crucial for the future," Farley said.

The new restrictions will be enforced for six weeks, through the new year.

"I know these restrictions are tough, people are going to be put out of work and some businesses may go under, but we also know that the consequences to health of not doing it are really bad," Farley said. "And if we do this right, our businesses will recover faster because the epidemic wave will subside sooner."

Farley also urged surrounding counties in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey to join Philadelphia in enacting similar measures, noting there is a lot of movement within the region and containing the virus is difficult without more uniform precautions.

2020 so far has been a left jab to the face, and the new restrictions may be the knockout punch.

"This year has been a hard year for all business owners, especially myself being a small business owner," gym owner Maleek Jackson said.

Jackson owns the Northern Liberties boxing gym bearing his name.

"We have built a decent community and we have earned the community's trust and I think the community is behind us and I think we're going to make it through this," Jackson said.

But getting through the second wave of shutdowns, which includes closing all indoor gyms come Friday, means having to shuffle and pivot once again.

"Our gameplan is to go back to our summertime days, bought some new equipment and we brought the gym back outside," Jackson said.

Indoor dining at restaurants will be prohibited, while outdoor dining is now limited to parties of four from the same household.

"Ten days ago we finally felt comfortable enough to open up," said Neina Langford.

Langford is the director of marketing for Four Corners Management Hospitality, which owns Craft Hall, which offers one of the largest indoor dining spaces in the city.

"We've always said that safety is our number one priority for our staff and our customers, but at the end of the day, people still need to make ends meet," Langford said.

So now, even though massive indoor sections will stay closed, the outdoor patio is getting converted for diners with the hope these changes will end with the beginning of the new year, and Philadelphians, of course, follow the rules.

"We can't expect to open up in six weeks if every weekend you're just going to leave Philly anyway and go to Jersey or another suburb and expose yourself to other people. We're never going to get there. We're only going to beat this together," Langford said.

CBS3's Stephanie Stahl and Greg Argos contributed to this report.

For a full list of new restrictions, click here.


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