Outdoor Dining Permitted in Philadelphia As of June 12, 2020

Written by: Natalie Klyashtorny

As of today, outdoor seating will be permitted for restaurant and bar establishments in Philadelphia.

Restaurant and bar establishments which already have patio areas on their properties or have sidewalk café licenses are authorized to offer outdoor seating as of today, provided they follow Covid-19 safety guidelines and have current, valid restaurant licenses.

The City’s current ordinance restricts sidewalk cafés to Center City and other specific geographic locations.

In order to support restaurants in every neighborhood, the City will allow all licensed restaurant and bar establishments that comply with basic requirements to offer outdoor seating through the end of 2020.

For the first time, restaurant and bar establishments will also have the opportunity to expand their seating area in on-street parking spaces, in front of adjacent businesses, and onto vacant lots, with the written permission of the property owners.

For those restaurant and bar establishments which do not already have patio areas or sidewalk café licenses, the City is offering the opportunity to apply for permits under the following 4 options:

  • Sidewalk Café — Allows for daily use of sidewalk area in front of the business for seating.
  • Streetery — Allows for curbside parking at street level (or platform built on street) to be converted into outdoor dining or take-away area for food and beverages.
  • Temporary Use of Private Lots for Dining — Allows restaurant and bar establishments to convert spaces in their parking lots into seating and to place seating onto vacant lots in most commercial and mixed-use zoning districts.
  • Temporary Street Closure — Pilot program beginning this summer that allows for temporary closure of certain streets for shared seating.

Business owners may use the same application to register for a sidewalk café or “streetery,” turning adjacent curbside parking into outdoor dining space.

Separate governmental applications will be required to participate in the pilot program for temporary street closures and to obtain temporary zoning approval for seating in their parking lots and on vacant lots.

All governmental applications will be available online late today, with processing thereof beginning on Monday, June 15th.

Sidewalk café and most other governmental applications will be reviewed within 3 business days.

Street closure governmental applications are expected to have a turnaround of 5 to 10 business days. Street closures will not be allowed to last for the whole summer, but will be limited to 60 hours at a time.

All restaurant and bar establishments must strictly manage capacity limits and customers must be seated at tables a minimum of 6 feet apart.

Physical guides, like tape lines on the floors, must be used to keep customers 6 feet apart while waiting to be seated.

Reusable menus are prohibited, and the refilling of food and beverage containers is not allowed.

Customers will be required to wear masks while entering, exiting, and otherwise traveling throughout the restaurant and bar establishment.  Face coverings may, however, be removed while seated.

Owners of restaurant and bar establishments must provide masks to employees and make it mandatory that they wear them at all times.

At least 1 employee at each restaurant and bar establishment must be assigned to frequently clean high-touch areas, like doors, bathroom surfaces, host stands, tabletops and check presenters.

The following rules also apply to all businesses operating outdoor dining:

  • Hours of operation are limited to 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • No heating, cooking, or open flames are allowed in the right of way, except approved outdoor heaters.
  • No food preparation is allowed in the public right of way.
  • Appropriate lighting is required at night.
  • Outdoor operations may be shut down if they are a nuisance to neighbors.
  • Moveable furniture on streets and sidewalks must be labeled as property of the business and must be moved inside or secured to the ground when not in use.
  • Tents are prohibited, except in private lots.
  • Establishments with fewer than 20 tables in total must make at least 1 table ADA accessible.
  • Establishments with more than 20 tables total must make 5% of its tables ADA accessible.
  • Deliveries and waste and recycling collections must be conducted safely and in a way that does not impact social distancing, ADA regulations, or safe circulation by pedestrians, bikes, or vehicles.

Restaurant and bar establishments that adopt outdoor dining must possess a Commercial Activity License and a Food Preparation and Serving License from the City.

Furthermore, they must also have insurance with a minimum $1 million insurance liability policy.

If you have any questions about these new rules and regulations for operating outdoor dining in Philadelphia, or require assistance with any legal matter as a result of the pandemic, we are offering consultations at no cost. To learn more, please visit https://nochumson.com/. We look forward to helping you and your business.