In-person visits to resume at Philadelphia prisons

As mask mandates and vaccine requirements are lifted due to falling COVID numbers, in-person visitation will start again March 7.

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia.

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. We’re all still trying to figure out how to live with it. What should we know about how you approach the world now? How has the pandemic changed your social life, your work life, your interactions with your neighbors?

People being held at Philadelphia prisons will soon be able to visit in person with their friends and families, but only if they have been fully vaccinated.

Visitors had been banned from the city’s prisons under protocols designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Last November, the ban was lifted, and visitors were once again allowed inside. But that policy proved to be short-lived as cases in the city started to spike — visitation was once again halted on Jan. 6.

Now, with improving COVID-19 case numbers and the city’s mask and vaccine mandates being lifted, Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) officials will once again allow visits, with some precautions.

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“We understand the importance of allowing the family and friends of incarcerated people to interact with their loved ones. With positivity rates and hospitalization rates continuing to decline locally, the PDP has determined that we can safely resume in-person visitation at our facilities,” Commissioner Blanche Carney said in a statement.

“Over the last two years, the PDP has been relentless in its strategy to lessen the spread of COVID-19 inside our facilities to keep both incarcerated people and staff safe. As a result, we are in position to resume visits.”

Visits must be scheduled 48 hours in advance, with the Department of Prisons scheduling site reopening Friday.

Under the new rules, only fully vaccinated visitors will be allowed. One adult and one child between the ages of 5 to 17 will be permitted per visit, as part of an effort to ensure social distancing. Children under the age of 4 will not be allowed to visit for now because vaccines are not available for them yet. All visitors will be required to undergo temperature checks and must wear masks throughout the entire visit.

The prisons controlled by the PDP include Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the Detention Center, Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, and Riverside Correctional Facility.

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