Note: This post has been updated to reflect changes to the yellow phase, as Philadelphia plans to move into the green phase of reopening in early July. 


As Philadelphia begins to relax restrictions on business activity, the City announced a new Safer at Home Order, along with new guidance detailing how businesses can reopen safely. The guidance and Safer-at-Home Order detail which restrictions on business activity have been relaxed, along with those that remain in effect. Residents are still advised that they are “safer at home.”


The Basics: Reopen With Care

As businesses gradually reopen, they must follow protocols to keep employees, customers, and others safe. Guidance will vary by sector, but all businesses should reopen with care by following our Safety Checklist.

The risk levels of different businesses and activities were assessed based on: the potential for transmission of COVID-19; the number of people who could become infected; and the likelihood of fatalities, considering a number of factors that are outlined in the Safer at Home plan. 

See operations details for specific business types.


New for yellow phase

As Philadelphia prepares to move into the green phase of reopening in early July, these activities can resume on June 26, while Philadelphia is still in the yellow phase:

  • Residential swimming pools and private swim clubs
  • Zoos (outside only)
  • Personal services such as salons, barbers, and spas
  • Small indoor social and religious gatherings (up to 25 people)

COVID-19 is not gone, so we must reopen with care. Read more about our progress in the Reopen With Care report.


What’s Changed

Businesses should review the new Safer-at-Home Order and guidelines closely to see if their establishment is included in the permitted activities. The following are examples of changes to previous business restrictions:

  • Retail establishments are generally allowed to open. However, they are strongly encouraged to use curbside pickup or delivery options. They should limit occupancy inside to allow for physical distancing—five total customers for every 1,000 square feet of public space in the facility.
  • Walk-up ordering at food service businesses, including restaurants and mobile vendors, is permitted, provided businesses follow social distancing requirements. 
    • Face coverings are required at all times for walk-up ordering. 
    • Restaurants and food vendors cannot permit lines of more than 10 customers to form in or around facilities, and patrons must maintain a physical distance of at least six feet while standing in line.
    • The Streets Department is waiving a fee for short term loading zones for restaurants doing take out by modifying their application (normally for dumpster and for moving) to enable curbside pick-up at restaurants.
  • Indoor dine-in service is still prohibited at this time. 
  • Businesses in the real estate industry can generally begin to operate in accordance with State and City regulations, as long as guidance to reduce risks in connection with such operations is followed. 
  • Child care centers, outdoor youth day camps and recreation, outdoor parks-related amenities, consumer banking, automobile sales, manufacturing, and warehouse operations can operate provided physical distancing guidelines are followed.
  • Most construction activity is now allowed. COVID-19 safety precautions must be observed on construction sites. 
  • Office-based businesses may also reopen, but should continue working remotely whenever feasible.

Requirements for Businesses that Reopen

As they reopen, businesses will be required by the Safer-at-Home Order to follow a safety checklist of operations called “Safe Mode” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Safe Mode includes precautions tailored to the specific activity and setting, but contains eight common elements for any business operating in the city of Philadelphia:

  1. Universal Masking.  Businesses must provide masks for all onsite employees, who must wear masks while on-duty.  Customers and visitors must also wear masks.  Businesses must comply with all other industry-specific requirements for masking and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  2. Isolation Protocols. Employers must prevent an employee from remaining onsite if they have COVID-19 related symptoms.  If an employee develops a COVID-19 infection or receives a positive test result, businesses and other organizations must take additional precautions to stop the virus from spreading further, as described in the City’s Guidance for Essential Businesses and Organizations During COVID-19 issued on April 20, 2020.  Employers must report positive cases to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
  3. Clear Barriers. Businesses that engage with the public, including at sales counters, customer service stations, security and information desks, and similar locations must install clear plastic barriers between employees and customers and/or visitors that can block the path of respiratory droplets.
  4. Distance. Businesses must create and enforce policies that require social distancing onsite and adhere to industry-specific social distancing guidelines issued by the Commonwealth and City.
  5. Crowd Reduction. All businesses must manage occupancy and capacity as necessary to ensure social distancing and reduce crowding, and specifically:
    • Retail shopping businesses must limit entry to a maximum of 5 total customers for every 1,000 square feet of public space in the facility;
    • Offices, excluding healthcare providers, must limit entry to a maximum of 5 total persons for every 1,000 square feet of space in the facility; and
    • All other businesses must continue to adhere to any industry specific-orders and guidance regarding crowd-reduction issued by the Commonwealth or City.
  6. Handwashing. Businesses must install handwashing stations or hand sanitizer at entryways and outside communal bathrooms for all staff and customers with prominent signage promoting use, and maintain compliance with any industry-specific handwashing guidelines issued by the Commonwealth and City.
  7. Cleaning. Businesses must establish protocols and follow them for disinfecting high-touch surfaces, shared equipment, shared seating, or shared tools with disinfectant at least every four hours, and maintain compliance with industry-specific cleaning guidelines issued by the Commonwealth and City.
  8. Communication. Businesses must establish and execute protocols for educating employees about symptoms and prevention of COVID-19.  Businesses must post signs prominently at entrances and employee break rooms advising employees and customers or visitors of, at a minimum: universal masking requirements; applicable quarantine and isolation protocols; social distancing; and hand washing or sanitizing protocols.

Additional recommendations for different types of businesses and activities are detailed in a separate set of industry-specific guidelines.

What Business Activity Remains Prohibited

The following business activities remain prohibited under the latest Order:

  • Indoor recreation, such as indoor sports or training, bowling, arcades, racquetball, racing, gaming halls, pool halls, indoor miniature golf, and other similar facilities.
  • Activities in entertainment facilities, such as casinos, theaters, museums, zoos, concerts, social clubs, carnivals, amusement parks, semi professional or amateur sports, and other similar facilities. 
  • Health and wellness facilities and personal care services, such as gyms, spas, saunas, barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo and piercing shops, tanning salons, massage therapy providers, and other similar facilities.
  • Indoor malls, including interior businesses, and other similar facilities, except pharmacies or healthcare tenants and tenants with external entrances adhering to applicable business guidance.

It is a shared responsibility for all of us to stop the spread and overcome the virus. If employees or customers of businesses that reopen want to report possible health and safety violations in the workplace related to COVID-19, they can contact 311. 

As we understand that reopening under these new guidelines will be challenging, the City is committed to helping businesses get compliant and support them in whatever ways possible. However, businesses should be aware that violations could result in fines, penalties, and license suspension.

Signage Available for Businesses

Business owners are encouraged to download, print, and hang these posters in their establishments. The posters include messages on social distancing, hand washing, COVID-19 symptoms, and more. Please understand that as we try to stop the spread of COVID-19, we need to limit physical social interaction as much as possible.