Philadelphia Bans Mass Public Events Except Protests

City officials in Philadelphia have announced a six-month freeze on all large events on public property, with the chief exception of protests, in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said at a press conference Tuesday that the prohibition on gatherings over 50 people held on public property will be in effect through February 28, 2021.

“I know this news will be disappointing for many Philadelphians, it was not an easy decision to make,” Kenney said at the press conference. “But as we continue to battle COVID-19 and try to restore some sense of normalcy in our city, we know there will be many difficult decisions to come.”

Festivals, parades, concerts, carnivals, fairs, and flea markets are among the types of events that are covered by the moratorium. Gatherings related to the expression of First Amendment rights, such as protests, are exempt from the ban, Kenney said, adding that events with fewer than 25 participants held on private property will be allowed, as long as they follow public health guidelines. Also exempt from the ban are outdoor gatherings like family picnics or outdoor weddings that are not publicly advertised, provided they have fewer than 50 pre-registered guests.

Asked about enforcement, Kenney said it would be looked at on a case-by-case basis, but added that some event organizers have expressed relief at the moratorium amid concerns that proceeding with planned mass events would exacerbate the health risk.

“We would encourage people to be smart, not unsmart,” Kenney added.

Epoch Times Photo
Participants march in the 53rd Annual St. Patricks Day Parade on March 14, 2004, in Philadelphia, Penn. (William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

The mayors spokeswoman, Lauren Cox, said in an email prior to the conference that the moratorium was not intended for events held on private property.

“This is in regards to events that the City permits on public property (like parades and festivals), it does not apply to events on private property—including sports stadiums and concert venues,” Cox said.

“This moratorium is really intended for city-permitted events,” explained Brian Abernathy, Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia, in remarks at the presser.

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