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Mayor Kenney Dining Indoors in Maryland; New Jersey Indoor Dining 9/4; Protest Camps Eviction 9/9
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 08/31/20 5:00 pm | updated: 08/31/20 5:00 pm
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is facing criticism after a photo of him apparently dining indoors at a restaurant in Maryland on Sunday, 9/30, appeared on social media. The photo shows the mayor not wearing a mask and sitting closely to others. Indoor dining in Philadelphia won't resume until Tuesday, September 8. The rest of Pennsylvania has had indoor dining at some level since the end of June. Award winning Philadelphia restauranteur Marc Vetri posted on Instagram, "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."

A spokesperson for the Mayor said on Sunday night, "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.

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."

Mayor Kenney responded on Monday on Twitter saying, "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." also "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."

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday, 8/31, that indoor dining may resume across the state starting this Friday, 9/4. Capacity will be limited to 25%. Distance must be maintained between tables. Masks must be worn when not seated at your table. Staff must wear masks at all times. Also, movie theaters and other performance theaters will be allowed to open for this Labor Day weekend. They will be limited to 25% capacity or 150 persons, whichever is less. Masks must be worn by attendees. The limit for other indoor activities such as religious services, weddings, funerals, or other services and celebrations will be raised to 25% or 150 persons, whichever is less.

Philadelphia city officials have given formal notice to several protest camps that they must disband by Wednesday, September 9th at 9 a.m. Last week, a federal judge denied the protesters' injunction to stop a previous eviction. The judge told the city they had to give the people 72 hours notice. The protest camps are located at Ben Franklin Parkway and 22nd Street, the Azalea Garden behind the Art Museum, and on Ridge Avenue next to the Philadelphia Housing Authority Building. The camps have grown and shrunk since June 10 with anywhere from 100 - 200 people. The Mayor's office says that 111 have accepted housing services. Working with organizers on their demands, the city can offer temporary housing in 260 hotel rooms set up as COVID-19 Prevention Sites. Planning for a Tiny House Village is underway. More programs such as rapid rehousing and long-term housing options are being created.

"We have spent nearly three months engaging in good faith negotiations with organizers and those who are living in the camps. We've listened, discussed, and responded to their demands, and I'm proud of a number of actions that are already underway," said Mayor Jim Kenney. However, he says that the decision to close the camps is a matter of public health and safety.

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