COVID-19: Philadelphia to allow increase to 50% for Indoor Dining Capacity

Earlier today, February 9, 2021, the City of Philadelphia announced it will allow restaurants to increase indoor dining capacity to 50% as early as Friday, February 12, 2021 if they meet certain criteria outlined below – namely improving their ventilation.

In order to be allowed to increase indoor capacity to 50% from the current citywide limit of 25%, restaurants are required to certify that they have improved their ventilation per an on line application that is required to be filed with the City.

To be eligible for increased capacity, restaurants using an HVAC system are required to show the following:

1.  their HVAC system is fully operational and ventilates the entire indoor dining area;

2.  At least 20% of the air circulated by the HVAC system is outdoor air;

3.  That there is 15 or more outdoor air exchanges per hour;

4.  That the system has a MERV 11 or higher filtration system; and

5.  That exhaust vent has a minimum 6-foot clearance from tables, chairs or other items.

If a restaurant is using only window fans, there must be at least 15 air exchanges per hour measured indoors.

The city’s goal is to respond to applications within 72 hours of receiving the form. If approved, per the Philadelphia Business Journal, restaurants will be able to immediately increase capacity starting this Friday.

The Department of Public Health will be routinely inspecting restaurants to confirm that the establishments are in compliance.

Indoor dining capacity was reduced to 25% in Philadelphia on Jan. 16th after nearly 2 months of being shut down. The City rules have continued to be more stringent than that of the Commonwealth in various areas, including indoor seating capacity. 

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, Sharon Caffrey, Eve Klein or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.