How is it already September? As summer comes to a close, there’s more that we’re allowed to do now: Both indoor dining and movie theaters are about to open. How does it work and how do you stay safe? We have some good advice for navigating both those decisions, below.

We’ve collected all our best articles about how to do everything better right now. They’re all in one place here.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and, as much as possible, it’s still a good idea to stay home.

Now that we can go back to the movies, should we? Here's what the rules, and science, says.
Cynthia Greer
Now that we can go back to the movies, should we? Here's what the rules, and science, says.

Your questions, answered

» Ask us a question through Curious Philly: inquirer.com/askus

Plan this

Here are some of the best ways to keep busy this week, with a few selections from our weekly events calendar:

  • 🦖 Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru (Event / in-person / kid-friendly / multi-day) Come eye-to-eye with life-sized dinosaurs at the Wells Fargo Center from the comfort of your car. Dozens and dozens of dinosaur recreations from the Cretaceous period, the Jurassic Period and the Triassic period grace the outdoor driving course until Sept. 13. ($49 per car, Sept. 4-13, jurassicquest.com, map, add to calendar)
  • 🎺 The United States Air Force Full Spectrum Virtual Concert (Concert / virtual / free / multi-day) Enjoy a free, virtual Labor Day concert as the United States Air Force’s Full Spectrum band performs on the Delaware River Waterfront’s social channels and website twice over the course of the holiday weekend. (Free, Sept. 4 and 7, 7 p.m., delawareriverwaterfront.com, add to calendar)
  • 👑 Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire (Festival / in-person / day trip) Labor Day weekend marks opening weekend for the outdoor faire, which returns with COVID safety precautions like limited and timed entry, mandatory masks, and social distancing requirements. Enjoy classic ren faire activities like jousting, archery demonstrations, shopping from artisan merchants, turkey leg eating and more. (Free-$29.95, Sept. 5-7, parenfaire.com, Mount Hope Estate & Winery, Manheim, PA, map, add to calendar)
  • 🏛️ Reopening of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Museum / in-person) The grand dame of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway reopens in time for Labor Day weekend with pay-what-you-wish admission on Sept. 6 and full access to its main building. Exhibits include Fault Lines: Contemporary Abstraction by Artists from South Asia and Horace Pippin: From War to Peace, both extended into the cold-weather months. Masks and social distancing required. (Free-$25, Sept. 6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., philamuseum.org, map, add to calendar)
  • 🤣 The Labor Day Comedy Jam at Live-In Drive-In (Comedy / in-person / drive-in) The holiday weekend closes out with an evening of drive-in comedy at Citizen Bank Park. Enjoy laughs from Michael Blackson as well as entertainment from DJ Jazzy Jeff, Capone, Skeet Carter and more. ($99.50-$395 per car, Sept 7, 7:30 p.m., Citizen Bank Park parking lot, map, add to calendar)

» More great events at inquirer.com/calendar

Dine like this

Indoor dining is opening back up in Philly and New Jersey. So Grace Dickinson asked servers what they want you to know when you eat out. Here’s how to make it easier and safer for your server right now, and still have a great meal out. Here are some pro-tips:

  • Read the menu before arriving. The shorter you make your interaction with your server, the better (and safer). Come prepared with questions, and then swiftly place your order.
  • Order everything — including condiments — at once. “I can’t just go back and get ketchup like I used to,” says Jackie McCoy, a bartender and server at Miller’s Ale House in Montgomeryville. “Now I have to ring it in and have someone with gloves hand it off, and all these little things take longer for both of us than normally.”
  • Stack your own plates. “I don’t want one glass here, one plate there, where I’m leaning over your table. I want you to limit as much time as possible that I have to breathe your air,” says Leanie Williams, a bartender at Philadelphia Distilling.
  • Dining outside? Get your check at the first sign of rain. “Your server may have another eight hours ahead of them, wearing soaked shoes,” says Alyssa Al-Dookhi, a bartender at Devil’s Den.

Watch this

Is it safe to go back to the movies yet? Movie theaters in both Philly and New Jersey are also reopening, though things will look quite different now to help keep people safe. Nick Vadala looked at the rules and risks, and how to lower them if you do decide to go.

  • Safety precautions. Theaters have to limit crowds. In Philly, only 25 people are allowed in a single screening room. In N.J., attendance is capped at 25% capacity, or 150 people, whichever is lower. Theaters also have to clean and disinfect more, and some have signed on to a voluntary program that calls for additional precautions like increased ventilation and disinfecting.
  • Social distancing. You have to stay 6 feet apart from others, both in line and in the theater. And you have to wear a mask at all times. The only exception: In New Jersey, where theaters are allowed to sell concessions, you can take off your mask if you’re eating and drinking. In Philly, concessions aren’t allowed, and you have to wear your mask at all times.
  • The risks: Safety really depends on the individual movie theater, says Henry F. Raymond, epidemiologist and associate professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health. It can be risky because it involves being around crowds in an enclosed space. Ultimately, it comes down to a variety of factors, he says, such as capacity limits, a high-functioning HVAC system, and enforcement of social distancing and mask use. If done right, he says, going to a movie could “be done relatively safely.” But it’s worth noting that Raymond says he’s not planning to go the movies soon.
  • Making it safer: Seth Welles, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health, suggests scoping out the theater and crowd before going in to make sure both moviegoers and employees are following mask and social distancing rules. And, if you decide you aren’t comfortable, and don’t feel safe, leave.
  • Should you go? It’s a personal decision, and depends on your own comfort with risk. “People have to take their own risk into account while bearing in mind the potential effects on other people,” Raymond says. “Is it worth the risk to my friends and family when I can watch Mulan on Disney+? I get that it is a different experience in the theater. And we all need a break.”