Group of Philadelphia restaurant owners sue city over indoor dining restrictions

Restaurants workers are worried about where their next paycheck will come from after Philadelphia officials announced they are banning indoor and restricting outdoor dining at least through the end of the year.

Beginning Friday, Philadelphia restaurants will no longer be permitted to offer indoor dining and outdoor dining will be limited to groups of just four people from the same household.

Restaurant workers say their livelihoods in question.

“We’re picking and choosing the winners and losers, and I’m afraid all of us are going to be the losers,” Stavros Vasiliavis from Bodega Bar and Kitchen said.

The dining restrictions drop as COVID cases rise and Philadelphia reports 765 new cases.

“How is it that City of Philadelphia restaurants are more dangerous than a City of Philadelphia Lowes, or Walmarts, or Wawas?” attorney Brian Fritz asked.

The attorney for the group of 15 restaurant owners filed a lawsuit Thursday arguing the city's "Safer at Home" restrictions are in violation of their constitutional rights.

They claim they were not given any kind of advance notice about the restrictions and they are being implemented arbitrarily.

"Defendants, Kenney and the City of Philadelphia, as set forth in the “Safer at Home” ban on indoor dining, declared the ability to control the movement, interaction, livelihoods, and private lives of residents of the City of Philadelphia to order that citizens, such as Plaintiff, not utilize private property, without providing the citizens prior notice nor an opportunity to be heard, and without providing just compensation to those who will be irreparably harmed by the prohibition on indoor dining mandate," the lawsuit reads.

The restaurant owners are seeking an emergency injection to stop the city from enforcing the new restrictions.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says contact tracing in the city has found restaurants are likely places for COVID to spread.

“There is ample evidence from around the country that restaurants are high risk. Studies from the CDC showing people who have COVID are more likely to have eaten in a restaurant than those who haven’t,” Dr. Thomas Farley said.

Indoor dining will be shut down for six weeks just enough time restaurateurs say for their careers to collapse.

“We need people to bail us it. People won’t survive the next six weeks without a paycheck,” Shannon Darcy said.

The city responded to the lawsuit Thursday night saying: "We are still reviewing the lawsuit. But the prohibition on indoor dining is a critical part of our strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19 at a time when infection rates are surging and hospitalization rates are dangerously spiking. As Dr. Farley noted today, these restrictions are temporary. Death is permanent."



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