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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued an apology to residents of his city after a photo of him dining inside a restaurant in Maryland went viral, though such activity is banned in his city.
“I know some are upset that I dined indoors at a restaurant in Maryland yesterday,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “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.
“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. Looking forward to reopening indoor dining soon and visiting my favorite spots,” he added in a second post that included an announcement that indoor dining, with several restrictions, will be allowed again in Philly Sept. 8.
A photo of Kenney dining inside an eatery was shared by restaurant owner Marc Vetri, who complained that the mayor was enjoying indoor dining while preventing his own residents from doing so.
“Glad you’re enjoying indoor dining with no social distancing or mask wearing in Maryland tonight while restaurants here in Philly close, suffer and fight for every nickel just to survive,” Vetri wrote on Instagram.
“I guess all your press briefings and your narrative of unsafe indoor dining don’t apply to you. Thank you for clearing it all up for us tonight,” he added.
While restaurants can begin accommodating indoor dining next month, there are severe restrictions that they must follow. For example, Philly restaurants will only be able to utilize 25 percent of their capacity and have only four people per table — limitations which for many may not help much in terms of paying the bills.
Local reports noted that Kenney implored residents to follow those rules to ‘limit the spread’ of COVID-19.
“We need to follow what we are being asked to do by the health department,” Kenney said. “I beg you to follow the rules.”
On Sunday, Kenney’s office issued a statement saying the mayor went to Maryland to “patronize a restaurant owned by a friend,” according to ABC 6.
“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,” the statement said.
The mayor’s office went on to blame the Trump administration, which has been typical for state and local Democrats who have continued to keep their cities and states on lockdown.
“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. 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,” the statement said.
In fact, the Trump administration — and President Trump in particular — have deferred to states and cities throughout the pandemic, even drawing criticism from blue states and cities, as well as the media, for refusing to issue nationwide coronavirus mandates.
By comparison, however, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has said he would order them.
“Of course we understand the frustrations of local restaurant owners who have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. But there are 782 total cases in the county the mayor briefly visited, compared to over 33,000 cases in Philadelphia. Drastically different circumstances,” the mayor’s office noted further.
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