Philadelphia Ordered Restaurants Closed. Then the City’s Mayor Went Out To Eat in Maryland.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney publicly apologized on Monday after he was busted for sneaking across the border to enjoy a meal at a Maryland restaurant over the weekend.
Restaurants and bars in Maryland are allowed to offer limited indoor dining—capacity is capped at 25 percent of what would normally be allowed in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Establishments elsewhere in Pennsylvania are operating under similar restrictions as well. But in Philadelphia, indoor dining is still fully forbidden under restrictions imposed by the city government—the one that Kenney runs. The city’s ban on indoor dining, which was extended in late July amid fears of a “second wave” of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia, is scheduled to be lifted on September 8.
But Kenney apparently couldn’t wait that long. A sharp-eyed restaurant-goer caught Kenney dining indoors in Maryland on Sunday. The photo quickly went viral, and Kenney’s office confirmed to a local TV station that the mayor had gone south of the border to visit “a restaurant owned by a friend.”
On Monday, Kenney issued a more substantial apology via his Twitter account. “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,” he wrote. “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.”
Kenney is right to point out that the coronavirus risk is not the same everywhere at all times, and it certainly makes sense for different jurisdictions to adopt policies that reflect that. But his do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do approach to COVID-19 undermines the legitimacy of the harsh restrictions Philadelphia ha
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