A vacation in Mexico, Thanksgiving dinners and an election party. These are just some of the reasons why officials have apologized for breaking lockdown rules in recent months.
Governors and mayors have been announcing restrictions aimed to help stop the spread of coronavirus throughout the pandemic.
Some, however, appear to maybe not have been playing by their own rules.
Republican governors have faced fewer accusations, largely because they have not implemented as many of the restrictions that public health experts have called for.
One, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, did face backlash after tweeting that he had taken his family to a “packed” restaurant in March—a day before announcing a state of emergency.
These well-known figures have all been accused of breaching anti-COVID guidelines. Some have issued apologies, others have stood by their actions. Here’s the rundown…
Austin Mayor, Steve Adler
In early November, as coronavirus case counts, hospitalizations and death counts rose, Adler urged residents in Austin, Texas, to stay home and “not relax” about the pandemic.
He had gone to Cabo San Lucas with seven other people, the Austin American-Statesman first reported, following his daughter’s outdoor wedding and reception with 20 guests at an Austin hotel.
At that time, people in Austin were being asked to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more, but there were no travel bans.
Adler told the local newspaper: “It is safest to stay home. However, we aren’t asking people to never venture out. We ask everyone to be as safe as possible when they do.”
Denver Mayor, Michael Hancock
Mexico was not the only controversial destination of choice for mayors this Thanksgiving.
“Pass the potatoes, not COVID… Avoid travel,” Hancock wrote last week as he sat in an airport en route to a family get-together in Mississippi.
Moments before boarding the plane, he also told his followers to “avoid travel, if you can,” “stay home as much as you can,” and “host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners.”
He later apologized. “I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head,” he said. His spokesperson said Hancock would be self-isolating for 14 days after he returns.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom
California Governor Newsom apologized last month after being photographed at an up-market restaurant in Napa Valley, with a group of prominent lobbyists.
The pictures, first published in the San Francisco Chronicle, showed no-one, including California Medical Association representatives, wearing face masks at the Michelin-starred French Laundry where some plates cost $450.
State guidelines limited private gatherings to three households outdoors, however, those for restaurants were less defined. They said owners should “limit the number of patrons at a single table to a household unit or patrons who have asked to be seated together.”
“As soon as I sat down at the larger table I realized it was a little larger group than I had anticipated and I made a bad mistake,” Newsom said of the dinner at the French Laundry. “Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up and walked back, got in my car and drove back to my house.”
The governor has been self-quarantining recently after a student at his child’s school tested positive for COVID.
Washington D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser
Bowser was accused of violating her own travel rules to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory last month. The Democrat made a roughly 90-mile trip to Delaware, where Biden was based, in order to celebrate.
At the time, Delaware was one of 42 states deemed high-risk by D.C., meaning residents who have traveled to one should limit daily activities and self-monitor for 14 days. However, the guideline exempts essential travel.
Bowser declined to quarantine and defended the trip, saying it was “essential travel.”
San Jose Mayor, Sam Liccardo
Mayor Sam Liccardo apologised this week for attending a Thanksgiving dinner, which was attended by seven other family members.
In total, five households were present at the dinner—more than the rules allowed. Earlier this month California ordered that social gatherings be limited to a maximum of three.
NBC first reported that Liccardo celebrated Thanksgiving with his elderly parents at their Saratoga house along with an unknown group of people.
Following the revelations, the Californian mayor said: “I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules, by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family. I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better.”
Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, defended her decision to get a haircut from a professional stylist in April while salons were shutting down under the state’s stay-at-home order.
The Democrat had previously said that “getting your roots done is not essential.”
Speaking a few days after the controversy arose, she said: “I’m the public face of this city. I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye.”
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo
He did not break the rules. But, some would argue, he came mightily close.
Ahead of Thanksgiving, the governor was warning his fellow New Yorkers that family gatherings could be dangerous amid growing case counts across the U.S.
Yet his interview with radio station WAMC shortly before the holidays caused a stir.
“My mom is going to come up and two of my girls,” he said. That is his 89-year-old mother, Matilda, and two of his daughters, one of whom lives in Chicago.
His comments were met by a backlash, and Cuomo canceled his plans.
San Francisco Mayor, London Breed
Gov. Gavin Newsom is in good company when it comes to politicians attending fancy birthday parties while encouraging others to avoid gathering, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.
The Chronicle informs that San Francisco Mayor London Breed dined at the French Laundry the night after Newsom’s infamous, ill-advised, mid-pandemic soiree at the three-star Michelin restaurant North of San Francisco.
Breed took a few days off after Election Day and joined seven others the night of Nov. 7 to celebrate socialite Gorretti Lo Lui’s 60th birthday, Breed’s spokesman Jeff Cretan confirmed. The party of eight dined in the same kind of partially enclosed room with a ceiling and chandelier as Newsom did — making it more of an indoor dining experience than an outdoor one.
“Breed’s dinner at an opulent restaurant — amid an economic catastrophe that’s shuttered countless small businesses and stretched the lines at local food banks to new lengths — might not have technically violated the rules, but it isn’t a great look,” comments the paper.
The dinner would have certainly violated San Francisco’s health guidelines if it took place in Breed’s own city. San Francisco has issued stricter guidance than the state for several types of businesses, including restaurants, which were not supposed to seat groups larger than six indoors or outdoors unless everyone lived together. Three days after dining at the French Laundry, Breed banned indoor dining in San Francisco altogether.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that everyone act responsibly to reduce the spread of the virus,” Breed said in a statement Nov. 10. “Every San Franciscan needs to do their part so that we can start moving in the right direction again.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor, Sheila Kuehl
Just hours after Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl voted to ban outdoor dining at L.A. County’s 31,000 restaurants over COVID-19 safety concerns, she visited a restaurant in Santa Monica, where she dined outdoors.
Kuehl was seen dining outside at Il Forno Trattoria in Santa Monica, an Italian restaurant near her house that she has previously described as one of her ‘favorite’ restaurants.
If you know of any more, please let us know.