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College hall on Oct.18, 2021. Credit: Avi Singh

Penn loosened its restrictions on indoor social gatherings which were first instituted at the end of the fall 2021 semester.

The University updated its event guidelines on Jan. 25, which allows students to once again gather indoors in order to attend class, study, and hold meetings and events. The ban on parties, however, is still in place — and it applies to both registered events and parties held at third-party venues. Penn plans on updating the current policy by Feb. 1, upon final review of the gateway testing data.

The announcement comes as the COVID-19 positivity rate among all community members lowered for a fourth consecutive week — 4.11% for the week from Jan. 16 to Jan. 22, down from 7.57% the previous week

More community members also took COVID-19 tests in the past week — with a five-week high of 11,371 — as part of the University’s spring semester gateway testing policy, which requires all students, faculty, staff, and postdoctoral students to receive a COVID-19 test through Penn upon campus arrival.

The total number of positive cases among community members nearly halved during the week from Jan. 16 to Jan. 22, with 467 positive tests compared to 821 the week before. 

The number of students in isolation also plunged, dropping from 1,315 to 564. With fewer students in isolation, on-campus isolation housing capacity nearly tripled, reaching 77.2% availability — up from 23.3% during the prior week.

Despite the loosened restrictions, Penn still encourages clubs and organizations to utilize virtual and outdoor meeting options and recommends limiting the size of gatherings. Eating and drinking indoors is discouraged. In accordance with Penn’s revised spring semester masking policy, all community members are required to wear a KN95 or N95 mask or double-mask — layering a cloth mask over a surgical mask — when inside campus buildings.