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Philadelphia's new Safer at Home policies ban gatherings of any size, ban indoor dining, and reduce outdoor dining to 10% capacity. Credit: Max Mester

Several Philadelphia restaurant owners have filed a federal lawsuit against Mayor Jim Kenney and the City of Philadelphia over restrictions banning indoor dining.

Safer at Home policies, announced by the City and Department of Public Health on Monday, went into effect Nov. 20, and will remain in effect through at least Jan. 1. The new policies ban gatherings of any size, ban indoor dining, and reduce outdoor dining to 10% capacity. 

The plaintiff, identified as Philadelphia Restaurant Owners Against Lockdown, LLC, denounced the new restrictions as arbitrary and unreasonable in their 11-page complaint

The complaint alleges that the City of Philadelphia violated the Fifth Amendment by taking private property without compensation. The plaintiffs also allege that the city violated the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving restaurant owners of property without due process.

The suit also alleges that the new guidelines discriminate against restaurant owners in the lockdown by banning indoor dining but allowing retail stores, salons, banks, and the Philadelphia court system to remain operational.

“In an arbitrary and capricious manner, Defendant, Kenney and the City of Philadelphia, have deprived Plaintiff of the economic benefits and use of property while permitting similar businesses to operate and compete against these Plaintiffs’ business,” the lawsuit states.

A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature found that the top three points of transmission are indoor restaurants, cafes, and gyms.

The complaint accuses Kenney and the City of forcing Philadelphia restaurant owners to “endure [their] destruction” without any compensation.

Kenney’s spokesperson Deana Gamble wrote in a statement to The Philadelphia Inquirer that the lawsuit is still under review, but the ban on indoor dining is crucial for slowing the spread of the virus.

Following the new guidelines, Smokey Joe’s in University City temporarily closed its doors this week. Smoke’s owner Paul Ryan told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the bar had previously been operating fully under social distancing protocols and under the required 50% capacity.

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