Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney Under Fire for Dining Inside During Ban in Home City

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mayor Jim Kenney has faced criticism after being pictured eating indoors at a Maryland restaurant on Sunday night, while COVID-19 restrictions ban dining inside in his jurisdiction.

"We need to follow what we are being asked to do by the health department," Kenney said in August in relation to pausing indoor dining in central Philadelphia. "I beg you to follow the rules," he said.

The mayor's office released a statement after Kenney was snapped dining in Chesapeake Bay, explaining that the circumstances in each area are vastly different. The office said that there are 782 total cases in the county which the mayor visited, compared to more than 33,000 cases in Philadelphia.

"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," his office told 6 ABC Action News.

"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."

Indoor dining in areas of Maryland is capped at 25 percent capacity, with a maximum of four diners per table, and only a maximum of 25 people allowed to dine inside and out.

Indoor dining in Philadelphia stopped on March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic, although indoor dining in some of Philadelphia's suburbs was resumed two months ago. Dining will resume indoors in the whole city on September 8.

Restaurant owners have greatly suffered due to the closure, and some are angered at the recent photo posted of Mayor Kenney eating indoors in Maryland.

"Another compassionate democrat mayor! What a fraud," said Twitter user Chris Stigall.

Hey look, another compassionate democrat mayor! What a fraud @PhillyMayor is. ⬇️ https://t.co/ykQYVKxs4B

— Chris Stigall (@ChrisStigall) August 31, 2020

"Good luck explaining this to restaurant owners in Philadelphia who are gonna go out of business. So it's not ok for us to do it here but you can," said former NHL player Colby Cohen in a tweet.

Restaurateur Marc Vetri posted on Instagram: "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."

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 narr… https://t.co/ar2OuVvGu0 pic.twitter.com/Pkb2MdjuZv

— marcvetri (@marcvetri) August 31, 2020
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at a sporting event in the city. Kenney has been pictured eating indoors at a restaurant in Maryland, while there is an indoor eating ban in Philadelphia. Drew Hallowell/Getty Images