On Monday, the city of Philadelphia announced stricter COVID-19 restrictions, closing indoor dining, gyms, and museums as well as banning private indoor gatherings like weddings, funerals, and parties. The new rules will take effect Friday and remain in place until Jan. 1. These regulations come as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Philadelphia and across the country.
Here’s how they will affect on-campus services at Penn.
The city’s new restrictions ban indoor dining completely, so Penn's indoor dining hall program will be canceled for the rest of the semester, Barbara Lea-Kruger, the Director of Communications and External Relations for Penn Business Services, told the Daily Pennsylvanian in an email.
In early October, RAGAs were invited to take part in a pilot program where they would be able to reserve seats for 30 minute slots at 1920 Commons, the only dining hall open this semester. Despite only 6% of RAGAs choosing to participate in the program, the program was deemed a success and was expanded to allow anyone with a dining plan to participate.
Despite closing 1920 Commons for the in-person dining program, students will continue to be able to receive pre-portioned food in takeout containers.
The Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center will no longer allow students to reserve study spots in the library. Although the library's program allows students to study individually, the new COVID-19 restrictions ban public gatherings of any kind. In an email to the Daily Pennsylvanian on Wednesday, Mary Ellen Burd, the Director for Strategic Communications for Penn Libraries said that the program will be ending this week, with Thursday as the last night of available reservations.
The program, which launched earlier this month, allowed students who live on campus to reserve seats in the library for slots ranging from one to four hours.
Faculty Express, which provides home delivery of materials for tenure and tenure track Penn faculty, Books by Mail, which is available for all students and staff in North America, and Pickup@Penn, which allows faculty, students, and staff to request material and pick them up in person will all still be available, according to Burd.
After reopening in late July, the Penn Museum plans to begin its temporary closure at 5 p.m. on Thursday and will remain closed at least until Jan. 1 in accordance with the new regulations.
The museum initially closed in mid-March, just as the University transitioned all classes to an online format. It opened after 4 months with multiple COVID-19 preventative measures, such as requiring a mask for entry and brining in cleaners multiple times a day between waves of visitors.
In the news release from the Penn Museum announcing the temporary closure of the museum, Jill DiSanto, the museum's public relations director, said that while the museum is definitely closed until Jan. 1, it is possible it will remain closed for longer, depending on the spread of the virus.
“The Penn Museum will continue to monitor the regional landscape and will reopen its doors to the public as soon as it’s permissible, while simultaneously continuing to prioritize the safety of its staff, visitors, and community,” DiSanto wrote.
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