Philadelphia mayor faces backlash...
(The Center Square)(August 31, 2020)-- – Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is facing backlash Monday for an image of him dining in a Maryland restaurant – despite his ban on the activity in the city he oversees.
Kenney's office told 6ABC News that the mayor did patronize a friend's establishment on Sunday, noting that he later dined outdoors at Rogue, a Philadelphia restaurant. They also clarified that Kenney looks forward to expanding dining options for residents on Sept. 8, per the city's Department of Health recommendations.
"Of course we understand the frustrations of local restaurant owners who have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic," Kenney's office said. "But there are 782 total cases in the county the mayor briefly visited, compared to over 33,000 cases in Philadelphia. Drastically different circumstances."
Marc Vetri, a prominent Philadelphia restauranteur, posted the photo of Kenney to his Instagram page Sunday.
"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," he said. "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."
Pennsylvania restauranteurs begged state lawmakers for assistance last month detailing the devastating impact of Gov. Tom Wolf's capacity limits and other social distancing mandates on the industry.
Should pandemic restrictions remain — or the state fails to deliver on dire financial aid, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association estimate that 7,500 establishments will shut down. In addition, they say more than 200,000 workers will face permanent unemployment.
A separate Yelp survey indicated some 60 percent of restaurants nationwide might never reopen. In Pennsylvania, Wolf's 25 percent capacity limit threatens the future of nearly one-third of all establishments.
Wolf has been a vocal proponent of federal legislation – the $120 billion Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act – to rescue struggling restaurants with grants for operating expenses. However, he's stayed quiet about bills in the Legislature that would provide up to $100 million in state aid to the industry.
State Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Fayette, issued a memo to his colleagues earlier this month seeking their support for measures that would repeal the administration's capacity limit and lift the ban on alcohol-only sales. The proposals — direct affronts to Wolf's mitigation strategy — likely face vetoes.
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