Philadelphia mayor defends dining indoors as restaurants remain closed
Indoor dining in Philadelphia was halted on March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) has addressed the criticism over a widely circulated photo showing him dining indoors at a Maryland restaurant on Sunday. Meanwhile, dine-in service inside his city is banned due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I felt the risk was low because the county I visited has had fewer than 800 COVID-19 cases, compared to over 33,000 cases in Philadelphia. Regardless, I understand the frustration,” Kenney tweeted Monday.
“I understand the frustration,” the mayor continued. “Restaurant owners are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. I’m sorry if my decision hurt those who’ve worked to keep their businesses going under difficult circumstances.”
He then reminded residents of the reopening of indoor dining on Sept. 8. “Looking forward to reopening indoor dining soon and visiting my favorite spots,” Kenney wrote.
The photo was shared on Facebook on Sunday by a Pennsylvania resident who was in the same Chesapeake Bay restaurant at the time. After the image went viral, Kenney’s office released a statement, The Hill reports.
“The mayor went to Maryland earlier today to patronize a restaurant owned by a friend of his. For what it’s worth, he also went to Rouge to enjoy outdoor dining in Philly on the way home. He looks forward to expanding indoor dining locally next week,” his office told 6 ABC Action News.
“Throughout the pandemic the mayor has consistently deferred to the guidance of the Health Commissioner, who in this case felt strongly about waiting until Sept. 8 to resume indoor dining,” the statement said. “If elected officials at the federal level had similarly deferred to health experts over the past five months, this might not even be an issue by now.”
Indoor dining in Philadelphia was halted on March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurant owners have since been greatly impacted by the closure, and many were outraged over the photo of the mayor enjoying indoor dining with no mask and not social distancing.
“Good luck explaining this to restaurant owners in Philadelphia who are gonna go out of business. So it’s not ok for us to do it here but you can,” tweeted former NHL player Colby Cohen about the mayor’s decision to dine indoors in Maryland.
When indoor dining resumes in the city next week, the capacity will be limited to 25 percent and no more than four people seated per table.
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