Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney apologized on Monday after a photo showed him dining indoors at a restaurant in Maryland, as coronavirus restrictions currently ban dining inside in his home city.
“I know some are upset that I dined indoors at a restaurant in Maryland yesterday,” he wrote on Twitter. “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.”
The photo in question was shared by Philadelphia restaurateur Marc Vetri on Instagram Sunday. Vetri appeared to be a vocal critic of the city’s ban on indoor dining, which is set to be lifted on Sept. 8 — with certain restrictions still in place.
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“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 in the post. “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.”
When announcing that indoor dining in Philadelphia would resume at 25 percent capacity — with tables allowing a maximum number of four seats on that September date — Kenney pleaded with residents to follow the rules, in the hope of limiting the spread of the virus, according to Philadelphia’s WPVI-TV.
“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 Monday, Kenney would also issue an apology to restaurant owners, which he said were “among the hardest hit by the pandemic”
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“I’m sorry if my decision hurt those who’ve worked to keep their businesses going under difficult circumstances,” he wrote on Twitter. “Looking forward to reopening indoor dining soon and visiting my favorite spots.”
Kenney’s apology came after the mayor’s office released a statement on Sunday, which said he went to Maryland to “patronize a restaurant owned by a friend,” according to the station.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is seen as city officials and response agent representatives inform Philadelphians on the preparation for the global COVID-19 virus outbreak, at a City Hall press conference, on March 6, 2020. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“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.
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“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,” it continued. “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.”