Mayor Who Banned Indoor Dining Was Caught Eating at a Restaurant

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney banned indoor dining, putting a huge strain on restaurants in the city. That may have been the right move, but eating in a restaurant in Maryland certainly wasn't.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Sep. 2 2020, Updated 1:45 p.m. ET

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney banned indoor dining in his city, which is definitely the right move considering we're still in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Unfortunately, restaurants in the area have struggled to stay afloat because of the ban, and when Kenney was seen eating inside a restaurant in Maryland, Philly-based chefs and residents went ballistic.

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The prevailing attitude was, "Hey, you're the mayor of a city whose restaurants are suffering because of policies you are enforcing. Maybe don't skip town so you can be waited on while the rest of us suffer." The mayor should have considered the motto, "Practice what you preach," and set an example for his city.

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This photo of Jim Kenney was posted to Instagram by restaurateur Marc Vetri, who wrote, "Hi @phillymayor!!! 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.

"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."

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The photo went viral, and residents of Philly have been roasting their mayor for his utter lack of self-awareness. In a statement on Twitter, Kenney apologized and explained his reasoning. 

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"I know some are upset that I dined indoors at a restaurant in Maryland yesterday. 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."

Here's an idea! If you're the mayor of a town with that many COVID-19 cases, maybe don't leave and take your potential disease-ridden body to a place with fewer cases to get a luxurious meal while the rest of your city suffers! Sorry, but mayors should lead by example, and this was the wrong example to set.

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His Twitter statement continues, "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."

And indeed, indoor dining in Philly is set to resume on September 8 with several restrictions in place, including a limit of 25 percent capacity and the use of face masks and shields.

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ABC 6 reports that the mayor's office released a formal statement about the incident: "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.

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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. 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.

"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."

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