After urging small Thanksgiving, San Jose mayor sorry for gathering that broke Covid rules

Tim Stelloh

The mayor of San Jose, California, apologized Tuesday for not following state coronavirus restrictions during a Thanksgiving meal in the latest example of an official not following public health protocols.

Mayor Sam Liccardo offered the apology after NBC Bay Area reported that he appeared to have celebrated the holiday with his elderly parents at their home with an unknown number of guests.

In a pre-Thanksgiving message last week, Liccardo had urged people to “cancel the big gatherings this year and focus on keeping each other safe.”

In a statement Tuesday, Liccardo said he was one of eight people from five households celebrating the holiday with his parents. Statewide protocols limit the number of households that can attend a private gathering to three.

Liccardo said the meal occurred on an outdoor patio with everyone appropriately spaced and wearing masks when they weren’t eating. Several of them had been dining together once or twice a week for several months as a “stable group,” he said, and other relatives who would have typically attended the celebration did not.

“I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them,” he said. "I commit to do better.”

The apology came weeks after California Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized for attending a birthday party at The French Laundry, a posh restaurant in Napa County.

The governor, who has offered frequent and forceful appeals urging people to follow the state’s public health measures, apologized after a Los Angeles Fox affiliate published photos of the Nov. 6 gathering.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was also caught last week traveling to Mississippi for Thanksgiving. Roughly 30 minutes before his flight departed, Hancock tweeted to “avoid travel, if you can.”

Newsom said Monday that Covid-19 hospitalizations had surged so quickly in recent weeks that he may reimpose strict stay-at-home orders. He estimated that if the rate of the virus’ spread holds, California could run out of intensive care beds before Christmas.