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City Plans Events to Quell Concerns of Businesses About Papal Visit

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Restaurants and other businesses in Center City remain unclear whether they'll be able to open during the Pope's visit next month.  So the Nutter Administration plans a press briefing this week, as well as a sit-down with business leaders to provide some guidance.

Concerns abound on both sides: businesses -- particularly food and hospitality services -- are concerned about getting staff and food into town when Pope Francis is here.  And Deputy Managing Director Jazelle Jones says city officials are concerned that some will decide to close:

"Absolutely we're concerned.  And the reason we're having the meeting is so we can quell some of the concerns by giving them more up-to-date information.  We are encouraging people to stay open.  By no means do we want to say the city is closed for business."

There will actually be two events, according to Jones: a press briefing later this week on how businesses can prepare, and a face-to-face session with business officials for a true give-and-take:

"The business have asked also for a sit-down.  And we're going to do that too.  You can only prepare based on information that you are given.  And this is why we want to respond to the questions that the businesses have.  Because honestly, it would make their life a lot easier."

The questions they have, she says, are many:

"Whether they should open or close, whether the deliveries will be able to come and go, trash pick-up, whether the staff can get in and out."

The Administration is particularly concerned about the decisions of food establishments, given the need to feed the many visitors who travel to see the Pope:

"Its a pilgrimage.  People are coming.  We know they are coming.  So we're trying to give you as much information as we can so you can make proper preparations."

Still, Jones is resigned to the possibility that some won't open:

"(For) some it may make sense.  Others it may not."

So Jones hopes that the press briefing and sit-down with restaurant owners helps ease fears:

"The more information you give people, the better they can plan.  And that is really our goal."

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