The city of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it is canceling all large events through February of next year. The decision to ban the next six months of events comes as the U.S. faces a surge in coronavirus cases.
Mayor Jim Kenney announced Tuesday that any event featuring more than 50 people will be included in the ban, effective immediately through February 28, 2021. This includes festivals, parades, concerts, carnivals, fairs, flea markets and block parties, such as the Thanksgiving Day parade and the Philadelphia Marathon.
The ban will not apply to any first amendment events like protests and demonstrations. Private outdoor events, such as weddings, are allowed if there are fewer than 50 guests. Organized outdoor sports with fewer than 25 people are also permitted.
“It was not an easy decision to make. The health and safety of Philadelphia residents, workers, and visitors must be our top priority,” Kenney said.
The mayor said Tuesday that 40% of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city are people under the age of 30. “This underscores the importance of avoiding social gatherings, especially for young people,” Kenney said.
Officials also highlighted the racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths in the city, saying 51% of people who died were African American, 27% were White, 9% were Hispanic and 4% were Asian.
While Philadelphia has not been hit as hard his as other cities across the U.S., officials said banning major events is a key way to avoid a future surge. “I look forward to celebrating with all of you at a block party or neighborhood festival once we get through this thing,” the mayor said.
Officials reported 148 new cases Tuesday afternoon, bringing the citywide total to over 27,700. The city’s death toll stands at 1,637.
“The key message to everyone is: To avoid a major shutdown, we need everyone to use masks when they’re around others,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, commissioner of the city’s Department of Public Health.