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COVID In Philadelphia: Lawyer Representing Restaurant Owners Believes Restrictions May Infringe On Constitutional Rights

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Those in the restaurant industry feel like they're being bullied by the city and are upset the city wouldn't work on a compromise to keep their indoor dining rooms open. Many restaurant employees believe they're being singled out with no plan in place for them to put food on their tables.

A local attorney representing a group of restaurants spoke with Eyewitness News on Friday night explaining why he thinks they've got a chance to win in court.

"It's our position, you should have by now a body of evidence or science to determine or to show us as to why you're making certain decisions," said Brian Fritz, managing partner of Fritz and Bianculli.

On Thursday afternoon, a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Philadelphia Restaurant Owners Group Against Lockdowns. The group believes the closure of indoor dining has a potential impact on their constitutional rights.

"How come there's no public hearings? How come there's no public input?" Fritz said. "How come there's no elected official input to develop a plan, to talk about, to see, to evaluate whether or not there's less restrictive means that could be put in place?"

On Friday, a new set of restrictions went into effect in Philadelphia. Indoor dining is prohibited and restaurants offering outdoor dining must reduce table sizes to four people from the same household.

People in the hospitality industry say it's just another way to bully restaurants.

"The research shows that indoor dining was not responsible for the surge in the cases so to take it away seems almost like bullying restaurants," said Wes Gunter, a server at Bar Hygge in Fairmount.

Gunter has been serving at Bar Hygge for the last five years. He says, for now, everyone's just leaning on each other, hoping there's an end in sight.

"We're all still pretty close and even closer now because we're all in this together, struggling just the same," Gunter said.

These restrictions will remain in place until Jan. 1 and officials will re-evaluate if an extension is necessary.


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