The announcement indicates the city is slowly and cautiously moving towards resuming normal commercial activity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Philadelphia has prohibited the operation of non-essential businesses since March 17, 2020.
Resumption of Additional Construction Activity
The May 26, 2020 order extends the scope of Philadelphia’s April 29, 2020 Construction Authorization Order which allowed construction to resume on a limited basis. The April 29, 2020, order is now amended to include construction projects for which a permit was issued by the city after March 20, 2020. Additionally, the Board of Licenses and Inspections Review is instructed to begin promptly accepting appeals. The May 26, 2020, Order states construction work based on permits for which the time period to appeal has not expired will proceed at the builder’s risk, not subject to any vested rights claims.
Businesses in the Real Estate Industry
Real estate businesses are now permitted to operate in the same manner as essential businesses. A “Business in the Real Estate Industry” is defined in commonwealth guidance and must operate subject to other applicable orders and guidance from the city and commonwealth. According to the commonwealth guidance, the real estate industry includes “real estate professionals, appraisers, notaries, title companies, settlement service providers, escrow officers, home inspectors, mortgage loan originators, processors, and underwriters, and other necessary office personnel including IT professionals, and back-office staff necessary to maintain office operations.”
Walk-Up Food Services
Walk-up food services including restaurants and food trucks are now permitted. Restaurants and food vendors must observe all applicable health and safety requirements, including but not limited to, social distancing and mandatory masking of employees and customers. Other applicable regulatory requirements, including licensing and permitting, remain in effect. Restaurants and food vendors must restrict lines of patrons to ten or fewer customers. The order encourages, but does not require, customers to wait outdoors. All onsite eating and dining remain prohibited.
Philadelphia is expected to be among the last areas in Pennsylvania to fully reopen after restrictions issued by the city and commonwealth intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Gaetano Piccirilli is a partner in the Litigation Department at Klehr Harrison.