The mayor of San Francisco disregarded coronavirus recommendations to attend a dinner party amid the coronavirus pandemic the night after California Gavin Newsom broke restrictions in the same restaurant, a report has said.
Mayor London Breed attended a gathering with seven other people at the renowned French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley on 7 November as part of a birthday celebration, Jeff Cretan a spokesperson for Ms Breed confirmed to The San Francisco Chronicle.
While indoor dining was permitted in Napa County when the dinner took place with no household limit, California’s state guidelines “strongly discouraged” social gatherings limited them to three households, the newspaper said.
If the dinner had taken place in the mayor's own city it would have violated health guidelines as restaurants were reportedly not allowed seat groups larger than six indoors or outdoors unless they were members of the same household.
Mr Cretan characterised the occasion as a “small family birthday dinner” but it is not clear how many households attended the birthday party.
Three days after attending the event Ms Breed banned indoor dining in the city altogether as cases of the novel coronavirus across the area continued to surge.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that everyone act responsibly to reduce the spread of the virus,” Ms Breed said in a statement on 10 November when announcing the restrictions, The Chronicle reported.
“Every San Franciscan needs to do their part so that we can start moving in the right direction again.”
The report comes just after Gov Newsom was caught taking part in a birthday celebration of more than 12 people at the same restaurant Napa Valley in disregard of the state’s regulations.
The governor later apologised for the “bad mistake”, on 6 November which saw people from several different households attend the restaurant.
“You can quibble about the guidelines, et cetera, et cetera, but the spirit of what I'm preaching all the time was contradicted and I got to own that,” he said.
“And so I want to apologise to you, because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice, and I've done my best to do that."
Mr Cretan emphasised to The Chronicle that indoor and outdoor dining were allowed in Napa and San Francisco counties at the time of Ms Breed’s dinner.
“Now, with case rates rising, and Bay Area counties moving back into the purple tier, she is once again limiting her actions and is encouraging all San Franciscans to do the same,” he said.
Experts have warned that the actions of high-profile politicians in defiance of their own recommendations could have a serious knock-on effect on the wider public’s adherence to regulations.
“Any increase in cynicism about our political leaders right now can potentially be costly,” Jason McDaniel, an associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University told The Chronicle.
“Our elected leaders should hold themselves to a higher standard. The mayor and the governor before her failed to meet that higher standard.”