DiNic's in 2016, with counter seating in full swing behind a line of take-out customers. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn) Credit: Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Reading Terminal Market will remain open as the coronavirus outbreak rips through the Philly region, management announced Friday. But to assist customers in quarantine — and encourage others to do the same — the market is now offering a special perk.

“We have sustained this Market through the Depression, world wars and other society seismic shifts,” Anuj Gupta, market general manager, said in a statement. 

With 7 million annual visitors, the market is one of the most densely packed retailers in the city — a place where health officials’ guidance to maintain a 6-foot distance to avoid possible exposure to the virus would be virtually impossible on any given day. 

But starting today, the 127-year-old market is waiving delivery charges and order minimums. Anyone within a 16-mile radius can buy direct from more than 40 RTM vendors online and have orders carted to the front door. Just use the checkout code: RTMFREE.

The market is also eliminating fees for two-hour parking at its partner garage at 11th and Arch streets, with a minimum $10 purchase from any merchant. For those still planning an in-person visit, market hours remain unchanged at 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Local grocers have been rocked by panicked shoppers as the first diagnoses landed in the region this week. Some items have cleared out so quickly that retailers placed purchase caps on essential products like toilet paper and cleaning supplies to better meet the demand. 

Gupta, who plans to step down as the market’s GM in April, said management will do its best to keep shelves full and merchants prepared.

“COVID-19 presents a challenge to our ordinary way of life, but the Market is prepared to ensure that it remains open, safe and stocked during this period,” he said. 

As of Friday, there were three positive cases of coronavirus in Philadelphia, bringing the statewide total to 41. Health officials expect those numbers to continue growing in the coming days.

To maintain a safe experience for shoppers in the tight-knit market, Gupta said the stalls and seating åreas would receive regular sanitation. 

If you’re worried about the 6-feet rule, maybe best to get your RTM fix delivered.

For up-to-date info on the coronavirus outbreak in the Philly region, bookmark our guide at billypenn.com/coronavirus

Max Marin (he/him) was Billy Penn's investigative reporter from 2018 to 2021. A graduate of Temple University, he has produced award-winning journalism on local politics, criminal justice, immigration...