(CNN)Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is facing scrutiny after being photographed dining indoors at a restaurant in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, while restaurants in his own city remain closed to indoor dining.
Philadelphia mayor apologizes after he was spotted dining indoors in Maryland while restaurants in his city are still closed
Kenney's office confirmed his visit to CNN, saying that his friend owned the restaurant and that outdoor dining wasn't available.
"In this case he felt indoor dining was low risk in this case because there are 782 total COVID cases in the county he briefly visited, compared to over 33,000 cases in Philadelphia. Drastically different circumstances. (And for what it's worth, he also went to Rouge to dine outdoors in Philly later that day)," the statement read.
Kenney addressed the photograph on Twitter on Monday, saying he felt the risk was low, but he understood the frustration.
"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," he wrote. "Looking forward to reopening indoor dining soon and visiting my favorite spots."
Restaurants in Philadelphia are set to reopen September 8, though occupancy is limited to 25% of normal capacity and they must keep patrons at least six feet apart.
Marc Vetri, a Philadelphia restaurateur, posted the photo of the mayor on social media and condemned his actions.
"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 wrote. "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."
In the photo, diners at the Maryland restaurant don't appear to be six feet apart, like Kenney ordered for Philadelphia, one Twitter user pointed out.
Kenney's office said he had "consistently deferred to the guidance of the Health Commissioner, who in this case felt strongly about waiting until Sept. 8 to resume indoor dining locally."
"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," it read.
More than a dozen restaurants in Philadelphia have closed, according to Philadelphia Magazine.