Foot traffic in University City has returned to pre-pandemic levels, unlike other parts of Philadelphia.
University City District officials told WHYY that the weekday foot traffic at the 34th and Chestnut and 40th and Walnut intersections has reached pre-pandemic levels, and weekend traffic at these intersections has surpassed the previous levels.
Center City, however, has not seen the same increase because many workers have not returned to their in-person workplaces, head of the Center City District Paul Levy told WHYY. Foot traffic levels in the area remain more than 25% lower than before the pandemic.
Despite this, Levy told WHYY that the growing residential population as well as returning tourists and shoppers are positive signs. He added that the Delta variant can help explain why the expected return of in-person workers in Center City was not realized.
The discrepancy between the foot traffic increases in the two areas comes from the ability of University City institutions to require vaccines across their large populations, Levy told WHYY.
Levy told WHYY that he hoped Center City employers would enact vaccine mandates to facilitate a return to in-person work. It is more difficult, however, given the large number of smaller employers in Center City compared to the large population employed by the institutions in University City.
Penn required all students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and has reached 99% compliance among undergraduate students. Drexel University and University of the Sciences students must also be vaccinated.