Philadelphia bans nearly all indoor gatherings

Philadelphia is banning indoor gatherings of any size, public or private, as the city battles a resurgence of the coronavirus, officials announced Monday, warning that hospitals will become overrun by the end of the year without dramatic action. (Nov. 16)

Video Transcript

JIM KENNEY: We are in the very dangerous stage of the pandemic. The average number of reported positive cases of COVID-19 per day in Philadelphia has jumped at least 700% in less than two months. The average number of new cases reported per day last week was higher than the number of reported cases during our worst week in April. The strains of our great hospitals are already showing. COVID-19 hospitalizations have jumped 6% in the last seven weeks.

So today, we are announcing a series of changes to the current restrictions that will be effective this Friday that last at least to the start of the new year. 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.

We need to act now to reduce the rate of increase and to flatten the curb once again. 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.

THOMAS FARLEY: While we won't prohibit people from leaving home and interacting, we want to strongly discourage that because it's increasingly unsafe to interact with anyone. So here are the specifics-- we will prohibit indoor gatherings or events of any size in any location, public or private. It means no indoor parties, group meals, football watching groups. No visiting between households. No indoor weddings, funerals, baby showers. We know that's a very strong policy, but this gets at the most important sites of spread.

And we'll have limits on outdoor gatherings. We will restrict outdoor gatherings to 10% occupancy or 10 persons per 1,000 square feet, and a cap for very large spaces of no more than 2,000 people. That means there will be no fans at football games. And for outdoor gatherings, no food and beverages can be served so we can ensure that people can and will wear masks.

We'll also be closing gyms, and museums, and libraries. Now what about religious institutions? Those will be allowed to stay open but with a reduced density no more than 5% occupancy or five per 1,000 square feet. And we encourage all religious institutions to hold their services online only.

We'll also prohibit indoor dining at restaurants. We know that many restaurants work very hard to follow our precautions. But people indoors gathering together and not wearing masks right now is simply too risky. Then we'll restrict outdoor dining to household members only. And as part of that, having the tables be no more than four seats.