California Governor Gavin Newsom said people are letting their guard down with the coronavirus pandemic, and nobody would know better than he does.
Newsom and his wife attended a 50th birthday dinner for friend and political advisor Jason Kinney with at least 12 people in attendance in the same week that he made the statement about vigilance amid pandemic fatigue, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The state public health guidelines allowed for small gatherings in California for the first time last month, but stipulated that no more than three households could be brought together.
Newsom’s communications director, Nathan Click, defended Newsom because the party was held outside at French Laundry, a famous Napa Valley restaurant in Yountville. However, Newsom did issue an apology with a stipulation that the event followed guidelines.
“We should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,” Newsom said in a statement.
While Newsom has made stronger appeals publicly about dealing with spiking infection rates, he was willing to eat his words for an entrée and a friend.
“People are letting their guard down,” Newsom said at a news conference Monday. “They’re taking their masks off. They’re starting to get together outside of their household cohorts. They’re starting to see businesses reopen and we’re starting, again, to see more people mixing. As it gets colder, we’ll see more still.”
Napa County said it was not limiting restaurant gatherings to three households.
“It’s a balanced right, between public health and not devastating the economy,” Napa County Public Information Officer Janet Upton said.
State guidelines defined a gathering as “social situation that bring together people from different households at the same time in a single space or place.”
It’s also noteworthy that the winery Newsom has an ownership in stayed open much longer than business were allowed this past summer, and he sends his children to a private school that is not doing distance learning.