Calling it “the first step toward a new normal,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley on Tuesday said that the city had lifted two restrictions on food ordering.
Patrons may walk inside restaurants to order food in real time, rather than order in advance and pick up only when the food is ready. Since assembly of more than 10 people is not allowed, Farley said lines must be limited to 10 and customers must wear masks and maintain social distancing while waiting for orders. He made it clear that dining rooms have not been allowed to reopen for service.
Food trucks and other mobile food vendors are now permissible in Philadelphia, the only municipality in Pennsylvania that banned them, subject to social-distancing requirements.
Both policies were adopted in late March, at the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown.
The Philly Mobile Food Association had been lobbying for weeks for the city to lift the ban, even floating an idea to allow a dozen vendors a day to set up in private lots with contactless takeout. Last week, the city rebuffed the PFMA’s entreaties, saying it was committed to “a more holistic review” of the order.
“I’m glad for all the vendors out there every day trying to make a living,” said Matt Rossi, president of the Philly Mobile Food Association, which lobbied the city to change the rules.
Restaurant owners are now looking toward a potential lifting of some restrictions on outdoor dining. City Managing Director Brian Abernathy said the office was working with the Streets Department about getting extra curb space.