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Philadelphia announced a reduction in restrictions on restaurant capacity on Friday.

Credit: Max Mester

Philadelphia has reduced restrictions on restaurants to allow for more customers at a time in an effort to help struggling businesses.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced the change in regulations on Friday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. According to NBC10 Philadelphia, restaurants that allow outdoor dining can now apply to have more than 50 patrons at a time. Bar seating will also be allowed at restaurants, with groups of up to four from the same household allowed to sit together. 

Mask and social distancing protocols will remain in place, and Farley did not say whether the city is considering lifting or modifying other restrictions on indoor restaurants, the Inquirer reported. Indoor dining is currently capped at 25% capacity, but restaurants can have 50% capacity if they meet ventilation requirements.

Farley said the city is changing the restrictions to help restaurant owners remain in business.

“We’re trying to help them adjust and make money without having to risk additional spread of the virus,” Farley said in his announcement.

These changes come as a growing number of Philadelphians have been vaccinated. As of Friday, more than 400,000 Philadelphia residents are fully vaccinated, and 708,000 Philadelphia residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, NBC reported. 

The pace of vaccinations, however, is slowing down, as Philadelphia health officials have reported a drop in vaccination demand, CBS reported. At the same time, racial disparities among vaccine recipients continue.

Farley said that the city is encouraging more providers to permit walk-in vaccinations, which could help diminish the gap in vaccination rates, NBC reported.