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Philadelphia is easing COVID-19 restrictions after the rate of new COVID-19 cases in the city decreased last week.

Credit: Max Mester

Philadelphia is further easing COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and indoor gatherings beginning on May 7.

City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said at a press conference that the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia decreased last week, allowing for the loosening of restrictions. Indoor catered events can now resume and the city is increasing limits on indoor restaurant capacity and table size, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Restaurants can increase indoor dining capacity from 25% to 50% or from 50% to 75% for restaurants that meet the city's enhanced ventilation standards. Table size limits will increase from four to six people indoors and from six to 10 people outdoors.

Indoor catered events can also resume, with a limit of 25% capacity in event spaces and a maximum of 75 people. If cases continue to decline, Farley said the limit could double on May 21.

Still, Farley encouraged Philadelphian to hold events outdoors whenever it is possible. None of the new rules are contingent on vaccination status because the city cannot enforce vaccination, Farley said.

Masks will be required at catered events, and may only be removed when people are sitting at a table and eating, according to the Inquirer. 

The city recently reduced restrictions on restaurants on Friday, increasing capacity for outdoor dining and allowing bar seating to reopen.

Farley said more specific guidelines will be released later this week.  

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania also announced that the state is easing its mask guidelines to align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Pennsylvanians who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks for small outdoor gatherings or dining outdoors with friends and family from different households. 

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