Restaurants in Pennsylvania will be able to increase their indoor occupancy to 50% starting on September 21, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf announced moments ago.

Restaurants that wish to expand their occupancy to 50% (which currently stands at 25% statewide) must self-certify they’re following the state’s strict social distancing and safety procedures, which are in place.

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“While our aggressive and appropriate mitigation efforts have kept case counts low, we must continue to take important steps to protect public health and safety as we head into the fall. At the same time, we must also support the retail food services industry that has struggled throughout this pandemic,” Gov. Wolf says.

Tuesday’s announcement, which affects many in our area including Bucks County diners, does not appear to change the course in the city of Philadelphia, which just began allowing indoor dining (at 25% occupancy rates) on Tuesday (September 6).

In fact, Philadelphia’s indoor dining begins weeks after the rest of the state has already allowed that. Philadelphia officials have repeatedly said that their coronavirus restrictions can be more restrictive (not less) than those issues by state officials. It was not immediately clear when/if the City of Philadelphia could expand restaurant occupancies above 25%.

As for the rest of the state, restaurants that wish to increase the occupancy to 50% of their capacity must “self certify” they’re following guidelines. Those guidelines include strict social distancing measures, mask policies, and other mitigation efforts.

Additionally, state officials say that alcohol sales will need to cease at 10 pm each night, starting September 21.

“The self-certification ensures that restaurants can expand indoor operations and commit to all appropriate orders so that employees and customers alike can be confident they are properly protected,” Governor Wolf says.

Restaurants who complete the self-certification process will be listed in a database that the state will be launching in the coming days as well.

“Through this self-certification process, our commonwealth’s restaurant industry will ensure the safety and well-being of both employees and patrons alike, and will be able to begin a return to normal operations and financial recovery,” Governor Wolf said.

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