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Philadelphia announces new restrictions as coronavirus cases surge

Philadelphia announces new restrictions as coronavirus cases surge
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Philadelphia officials on Monday announced new restrictions on businesses and bans on indoor gatherings in public and private places as COVID-19 cases spike in the city.

The Department of Public Health said they were announcing the restrictions to help “flatten the epidemic curve,” prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and reduce the number of deaths. 

The restrictions, including a ban on indoor dining at restaurants, will take effect Friday through at least Jan. 1.  

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Museums, libraries, casinos, bowling alleys, arcades and gyms must close while high schools and colleges will move to online-only instruction. 

All indoor gatherings and events involving people from more than one household will be prohibited, in both public and private places, with exemptions for religious institutions, which can operate at 5 percent of maximum occupancy. 

Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 10 percent of maximum capacity, not to exceed 2,000 people in any outdoor spaces. Individuals at outdoor gatherings must wear masks at all times, and neither food nor beverages can be served at those events. 

Outdoor dining will still be allowed at restaurants, but table sizes must be capped at four people within the same household.  

Retail stores, indoor malls, salons and other personal services can remain open but must enforce social distancing and require masks at all times. 

College sports can continue with no audiences if their plan is approved by the health department.  

Pennsylvania has seen a 115 percent increase in COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days, reporting an average of 4,800 new cases per day. 

Philadelphia follows other cities and states announcing new restrictions as the U.S. faces another surge in COVID-19 cases with the cold weather forcing people indoors, where the virus spreads more easily.