Three leading California Democratic officials were photographed maskless at the National Football Conference title game on Sunday despite a sweeping mask mandate for Los Angeles County.
In photos posted online by NBA legend Magic Johnson, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed are seen posing at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood without face masks. In one image, Garcetti can be seen holding a mask in his hand.
Los Angeles County’s mask mandate requires individuals – regardless of Covid-19 vaccination status – to wear masks indoors and at major sporting events except when actively eating or drinking.
CNN has reached out to Breed’s office for comment.
Harrison Wollman, a spokesman for Garcetti, said in a statement to CNN that the mayor “was wearing his mask during the game and removed it for a brief moment to take a few photos.”
Speaking at an event on Monday, Newsom told reporters that he had temporarily removed his mask for the photo with Johnson.
“(The) rest of the time I wore it – and as we all should,” the governor said. “And I encourage everyone else to do so.”
“I was trying to be gracious, took the mask off for a brief second. But no, I encourage people to continue to wear them,” he added.
California Democrats have previously faced intense criticism for flouting coronavirus restrictions while simultaneously pushing for aggressive restrictions to address the pandemic.
In 2020, Newsom attended an unmasked birthday dinner at the elite Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry while urging Californians to stay home and avoid gatherings outside their households to stop the spread of Covid-19. Newsom, who later apologized for attending the dinner, went on to survive a recall election last year that was instigated in part by the imbroglio.
And Breed similarly faced questions over her behavior in public after she broke San Francisco’s indoor mask mandate in September while attending a live concert at a nightclub in the city. At the time, she blasted “fun police” for raising questions about the episode.
Sunday’s controversy drew a heated response from Republican state Sen. Melissa Melendez.
“Toddlers are being forced to wear masks all day long in school,” she tweeted. “Maybe one day they’ll be governor or the mayor of LA and they won’t have the follow the rules they impose on others.”