A Running List Of CA Officials Who Warned Us About Eating At Restaurants, Then Did It Themselves
This story has been updated to add people to the original list.
Here's the thing about being a public figure, especially a political one: If you're going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk.
It looks bad (really bad) if you insist people follow all of many the coronavirus health protocols in place right now— like wearing a face mask, not travelling to see family over the holidays, avoiding people outside of your immediate household and not eating sit-down meals at restaurants — then don't adhere to them yourself.
But when has that ever stopped a politician? Rules that apply to the rest of us don't apply to them, right?
In that spirit, we present this list (which we're happy to keep adding to) of California politicians who warned us about the dangers of eating at restaurants but did it anyway.
- Gavin Newsom - On November 6, as coronavirus cases began to surge in California, the governor attended a birthday party with 12 people in Napa County. The dinner, held at The French Laundry, one of the fanciest and most acclaimed restaurants in California, was for one of Newsom's political advisers and included families from several different households. Although the event was allowed at that time, it's exactly the type of gathering Newsom has been urging Californians to avoid. The blowback has been fierce, forcing Newsom to issue an apology: "While our family followed the restaurant's health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner." You think?
- London Breed - A day after Newsom's dinner, the San Francisco mayor went to dinner at The French Laundry (yes, the same restaurant!) with seven other people from an unknown number of households, reports the San Francisco Chonicle. Like Newsom's dinner, the meal occured in a semi-enclosed space, which didn't violate state or Napa County guidelines at the time but it went against general health advice to avoid being around people outside your household without social distancing or wearing masks. Breed's spokesperson told the Chronicle that the mayor has, in recent months, dined outside at several restaurants to help support them. But with the number of COVID-19 cases surging, "She is once again limiting her actions and is encouraging all San Franciscans to do the same."
- Sheila Kuehl - On Tuesday, November 24, hours after she voted to uphold a ban on outdoor dining at local restaurants, the L.A. County supervisor was spotted dining outside at Il Forno Trattoria in Santa Monica, reports FOX11. Earlier that day, during a discussion at the Board of Supervisors meeting, Kuehl had said, "It's a bit of magical thinking on everyone's part to think that at any restaurant anywhere, the server keeps a six foot distance, I think, from the table where he or she is taking an order." That didn't stop her from going out to eat that night. Kuehl's spokesperson issued a statement that said, "She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible. She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit."
- Sam Liccardo - The mayor of San Jose admitted he broke safety guidelines when he went to Thanksgiving dinner at his parents' home. The meal was attended by eight people from five different households. Although it was served outdoors at distanced tables, Liccardo later issued an apology: "I understand that the state regulations, issued on November 13th, limit the number of households at a private gathering to three. 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."
- On Monday, Dec. 7, five California state Assembly members dined together outside at a restaurant, reports the Sacramento Bee. Hours earlier, Adrin Nazarian (D-West Toluca Lake), Chad Mayes (I-Rancho Mirage), Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas), Marc Levine (D-Marin County) and Chris Ward (D-San Diego) had attended a swearing-in ceremony where they were appropriately physically spaced. Boerner Horvath's chief of staff said everyone at the meal followed appropriate health protocols and they all tested negative for COVID-19. California officials have urged people not to meet for a meal with people from more than three other households.
If you think these actions don't have real-world effects, think again.
Outside the diner, Jordan hung a banner that reads "The French Laundry, Patio Dining," a clear dig at Newsom and his dinner party.
Seen your local pol noshing, sipping or partying with people in violation of coronavirus regulations? Tip us!