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San Francisco Mayor London Breed, under fire for going maskless, attacks ‘fun police’

San Francisco Mayor London Breed
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has come under fire for not wearing a mask while at a nightclub.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is clapping back against what she labeled the “fun police” after being caught on video defying the city’s mask mandate.

On Wednesday, Breed was spotted partying at Black Cat jazz bar and nightclub. The maskless mayor was photographed seated at a table with friends, who also were not wearing face coverings, amid a bevy of half-drunk beverages, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. She also was seen on video dancing and singing along to a live performance by R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné!

The city’s health order says attendees of live indoor performances must remain masked except when actively eating or drinking, and urges people to be seated at a table or a counter when doing so. The Chronicle reported that Breed “had a table of drinks in front of her and was often holding one” while she “spent the night dancing, singing along and posing for photographs without a face covering.”

Two days after the outing, Breed was defending herself.

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She argued that she was nursing a drink she had set down on a table when she stood up to dance.

“No, I’m not going to sip and put my mask on, sip and put my mask on, sip and put my mask on, eat and put my mask on. While I’m eating and drinking, I’m going to keep my mask off,” she said.

The mayor called the uproar over her night out a “distraction” and “unrealistic” and pointed out that nightclubs in San Francisco require patrons to show proof of full vaccination.

San Francisco Mayor-elect London Breed was still basking in the glow of her election victory when she arrived at Rosa Parks Elementary school on Thursday.

According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the city’s mandate, implemented in August, requires that all patrons and staff be fully vaccinated before entering gyms, entertainment venues and “places where food or drink is consumed.”

Health officials reinstated indoor mask mandates in August, regardless of vaccination status, after a surge in cases of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant. The ordinance says masks may be removed during certain activities, such as while eating or drinking. It does not provide exemptions for businesses that require proof of vaccination, meaning facial coverings were required when Breed was at the Black Cat for patrons who weren’t eating or drinking.

The brouhaha over Breed’s actions follows another incident in which the mayor was taken to task for seemingly not following the same rules she set for the city. In November, she was spotted dining at the French Laundry, one week after she issued warnings to Bay Area residents about gathering in large groups during a COVID-19 surge and one night after Gov. Gavin Newsom was a guest at an ill-timed soiree at the same restaurant.

Breed apologized for that outing, saying on Twitter at the time: “It doesn’t matter whether something is technically allowed or not — I need to hold myself to a higher standard and I will do better.”

But at a news conference Friday, she criticized her critics, saying residents should be free to enjoy themselves and support San Francisco’s nightlife venues and restaurants.

“Don’t feel as though you have to be micromanaged about mask-wearing. Like, we don’t need the fun police to come in and try and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing,” she said. “We know what we need to do to protect ourselves.”

The mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley, has publicly spoken out about Breed’s actions before and said it’s important for politicians not to be “blind to the implications” of their behavior.

“When our elected officials don’t [follow mandates], it undermines tremendously the confidence people have in them,” Swartzberg said. “It’s really a terrible error in judgment. It’s just very disappointing when elected leaders see themselves as above the law.”

But the mayor said that “no one has been more conservative about protecting themselves” against COVID-19 than she has.

“The fact that this story came to be about me and less about the artists and nightlife — which I will continue to enjoy in San Francisco — is very unfortunate.”

Times staff writer Maura Dolan contributed to this report.


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