Walter Wallace Jr.

What can and can’t you do during Philly’s overnight curfew?

The rules are slightly different from last spring.

A boarded up UPS Store at 13th and Chestnut closed early Wednesday

A boarded up UPS Store at 13th and Chestnut closed early Wednesday

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digial

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Philadelphia has begun imposing an overnight curfew from 9 p.m. through 6 a.m. the next morning.

So far this has been in effect on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and also Friday, Oct. 30. What does it mean, exactly? The rules are slightly different from the last time Mayor Jim Kenney employed the tactic, in late spring. Scroll down for the details.

Protests have coalesced in the city since Monday, when Philly police fatally shot 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. in front of his mother. Nights have seen people breaking store windows and gates, and unabashedly stealing goods. These acts of theft and destruction have “nothing to do with the protests,” PPD Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said on Wednesday. She suggested bad actors are using social justice marches as cover, and committing crimes because they know police are distracted.

Asked how a curfew helps, in the face of a lack of evidence that they work, Kenney said that if most people stay home, “I believe there will be less people to deal with, which makes it easier” for police to control the violence.

In late May and early June, curfews were enacted across eight nights, as roving groups took advantage of the distraction provided by rallies and marches spurred by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At the time, coronavirus infections in the region were peaking, and only essential businesses were allowed to operate, with most people self-quarantining anyway.

Though the pandemic is threatening a winter resurgence, many of the local business restrictions have been eased.

So what’s the story — do you need to stay home? What’ll be open and what will be closed? Here’s what the mayor’s executive order says.

Voting is allowed

There was an election the last time Philly enacted a curfew, too — the June primary — and the rules remain the same. This order cannot interfere with your right to vote.

So if you are heading out to place your mail ballot in one of the city’s 24-hour drop boxes, you’re totally allowed.

Essential workers are exempted

Remember the definition of “essential” and “life-sustaining” businesses from Philly and Pennsylvania’s coronavirus shutdowns back in March? They’re back.

Anyone who works in these operations — think hospitals, transit, media, banks — is allowed to go to and from their place of employment, or to perform their job, if it happens to be outdoors.

The exception this time around is the retail establishments below. Even if they were listed as essential under coronavirus lockdowns, they must close early and send employees home.

Retail stores must close early

All stores within the city limits are supposed to shut down in-person shopping by 9 p.m. Employees traveling home from work are allowed to be doing so after that hour.

The list of businesses that must close includes:

  • Grocery stores
  • Clothing stores
  • Electronics outlets
  • General merchandise shops
  • Pharmacies
  • Restaurants
  • Any other retail

On Wednesday some Philly stores closed voluntarily, to avoid the kind of damage that collectively cost at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in late spring.

Retail shops all over the city erected boards in front of windows

Retail shops all over the city erected boards in front of windows

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digial

Food and drugs can be delivered

If the proprietors want to, grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies are allowed to continue operating after 8 p.m. on a delivery basis only.

However, the city warns, they should make sure staff is protected, whether on site or dispatched to deliver orders.

You can pick up travelers

If someone in your household or family was traveling and is slated to return during curfew hours, don’t fret.

You are allowed to pick up people from PHL Airport, a city spokesperson confirmed, they won’t be stranded.

Don’t ignore health or safety emergencies

If you need medical attention, by all means get it, the order says.

Health workers are allowed to continue their work, and you’re allowed to go out if you’re seeking medical aid for yourself, someone in your family or house, or even a pet.

Same goes for your personal safety. If you’re scared for your life or somehow need help from law enforcement, you can go outside to find it.

Public spaces include parks

Where exactly are you allowed to be or not be during curfew hours?

The order applies to all public streets, as well as all “public spaces” in Philadelphia. That rules out sidewalks and parks, and also anywhere there’s a public right of way, like a plaza or square.

Mayor Kenney’s order also allows the Philly Police Department to close off any of these streets or blocks, and keep people out of them. There’s an exception for residents — i.e. you can’t be kept from going home, even if your block is closed off.

How many nights will this last?

As in the spring, the curfew order is for one night only — but it could easily be enacted again tomorrow, and the next day, depending on how things go.

“We will be doing them if necessary on a daily basis,” Mayor Kenney said on Wednesday.

Soldiers from the Pa. National Guard, which Gov. Wolf is deploying to Philadelphia at the request of Kenney and Commissioner Outlaw, arrived in the city on Friday. Their job, the mayor said, Is to protect property, not interact.

Want some more? Explore other Walter Wallace Jr. stories.

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