PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who banned indoor dining in the city due to the pandemic, apologized after a picture of him eating inside at a restaurant in Maryland on Sunday, August 30, circulated on social media.

According to 6ABC, the mayor’s office confirmed that he was eating inside a friend’s restaurant when he was in Maryland. Their statement said that Kenney went there to “patronize a restaurant owned by a friend of his.” 

The picture sparked criticism among people in the Philadelphia restaurant industry who have not been able to open since March due to COVID-19 restrictions. Marc Vetri, chef of a restaurant in Philadelphia, expressed he was not pleased with the picture in an Instagram post in which he addressed the mayor.

“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,” Vetri 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,” 

Kenney’s office statement said that the circumstances of the place that he visited were “drastically different” regarding the virus. They compared the 782 positive cases in the county in Maryland to the more than 33 thousand cases that Philadelphia has.

“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,” read the statement from the office released by 6ABC. 

On Monday, the mayor apologized via twitter for his decision to dine indoors and said he understood the criticism he received. He explained he felt safe doing it because of the low number of positive cases in the county he visited. 

“Regardless, I understand the frustration,” Kenney said. “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.” 

Restaurants in Philadelphia are set to reopen on September 8 with rules including face mask requirements, physical distancing among tables, a maximum capacity of 25 percent of guests and parties of four or less people in a table.