Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has apologized for breaking the state’s public health protocols after a photo surfaced on social media of her at a restaurant Saturday seated at tables that had been pushed together with at least 12 friends.
“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been committed to following public health protocols. On Saturday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it,” Whitmer said in a statement on Sunday. “In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize.”
The apology comes as states lift restrictions amid declining coronavirus cases and as more Americans continue to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
On May 15 the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a health order that stated, “Gatherings are prohibited at food service establishments, whether indoor or outdoor, unless: consumption of food or beverages is permitted only in a designated dining area where patrons are seated, groups of patrons are separated by at least 6 feet, no more than 6 patrons are seated together (at a table, booth, or group of fixed seats), and groups of patrons do not intermingle.”
Less than a week later, Whitmer announced the “MI Vacc to Normal” plan which lifts capacity limits for outdoor events and increases indoor capacity limits to 50% on June 1 and states that on July 1 capacity limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings will be lifted. Whitmer has also eased several restrictions on gatherings, capacities, and face masks over the last week.
The photo, initially posted on Facebook, was picked up by Breitbart, which reported the photo has now been removed from social media.
Whitmer, who faced public scrutiny over stay-at-home orders early on in the coronavirus pandemic, is not the only lawmaker to face criticism after violating public health orders.
Newsom, who is facing recall efforts, apologized for attending a birthday dinner at French Laundry in Napa Valley in November, a time when he was encouraging Californians to avoid large social gatherings and wear masks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who has extended mask wearing requirements for congressional members, faced criticism late last year for getting her hair styled inside a San Francisco hair salon, a violation of the city’s Covid-19 restrictions at the time.