Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is demanding that unvaccinated city employees wear two masks as cases rise in Pennsylvania’s largest city.
“It goes without saying that none of us want to be here discussing restrictions and policies needed to stem the spread of COVID-19,” Kenney said during an online news conference, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “The science is clear: These measures will protect Philadelphians and save lives.”
“The announcement came on the same day the CDC reclassified Philadelphia as seeing ‘high’ community transmission of the virus, and just two months after the city lifted its 14-month-long mask mandate and other limits on businesses and events. But the latest restrictions are different, both for the vaccination exception and because they don’t include capacity limits or social distancing requirements,” the Inquirer continued.
“Also new: Unvaccinated city employees will need to wear two masks while working indoors and new hires after Sept. 1 must be vaccinated,” the outlet added.
Kenney also said he is amazed by Philadelphia residents who are hesitant about the vaccine. According to CBS Philly:
The city will now require masks indoors at all locations unless vaccinations are required for everyone. Masks will also be required at all outdoor, unseated gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
For indoor dining, masks will be required unless the restaurant requires proof of vaccination for patrons and staff. There are no changes for outdoor dining, which can continue unrestricted.
“I’m upset,” Kenney said.
The mayor expressed frustration that the new mandates are needed because about 30% of the city has not been vaccinated.
“This amazes me that this is the most simple thing to do to keep yourself safe and your family safe and your community safe and people still refuse to do it,” Kenney said.
Starting Sept. 1, all city employees will be required to be fully vaccinated if they work inside or be double-masked.
Kenney made headlines in August 2020 when he was busted for eating indoors at his friend’s Maryland restaurant during a time when Philly restaurants were shut down.
Famous Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Marc Vetri blasted Kenney at the time for what he said was an example of hypocrisy.
“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,” wrote Vetri. “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.”
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“I know some are upset that I dined indoors at a restaurant in Maryland yesterday,” Kenney said in response. “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.”
“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,” he added.