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Penn will reopen indoor dining at limited capacity after loosened restrictions on dining in Philadelphia.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Penn will reopen indoor dining at limited capacity in three locations beginning March 8.

The decision to reopen indoor dining comes after Philadelphia loosened restrictions on dining in the city, Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said. Philadelphia restaurants can now increase indoor dining capacity up to 50%. 

“We’re just following the guidance from the city in terms of what is allowed. But we’re also keeping last right of refusal — should the numbers head in the wrong direction, we will scale back,” Dubé said.

Hill House, 1920 Commons, and Lauder College House dining halls will reopen to students who reserve 30-minute time slots, Penn Dining announced in an email sent Tuesday afternoon to all students on dining plans.

A limited number of single tables for one student to sit alone that are positioned to enforce appropriate social distancing will be available, according to the email, and students must wear a mask at all times when not eating or drinking.

Dubé added that students must remember that eating is a high-risk activity due to the increased transmission of infectious particles through saliva, and that abiding by social distancing guidelines is vital. He also said students must not move tables and seats from where they are originally positioned.

He added that, although indoor dining — like other recently loosened restrictions — is on a trial basis, there is potential for further expansion if students demonstrate a willingness to follow the rules and keep case counts in check.

“We have to be responsive to the levels of disease circulating on our campus," Dubé said. "But as we all saw, and have celebrated these past few weeks, because the numbers are manageable and they reflect that most students are making the right decisions, this is another restriction that we can loosen up in light of the response on our campus and because of the city’s guidance."