By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Gov. Gavin Newsom responded to criticism on Monday after maskless photos from Sunday’s NFC Championship game in Los Angeles went viral.
“I was trying to be gracious and took the mask off for a brief second,” Gov. Newsom said. “I encourage people to continue to wear them.”
Gov. Newsom and several other officials faced criticism on social media Sunday after maskless photos at the Rams vs. 49ers game at SoFi Stadium went viral. The photos, posted by former NBA star Magic Johnson, included maskless images with the governor, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“Hanging out at SoFi Stadium today!,” Mr. Johnson tweeted Sunday.
The photos sparked backlash from thousands online, who noted that a statewide mask mandate remains in place for all indoor spaces. Additionally, masks were required to be worn by all attendees at Sunday’s game except when eating or drinking in accordance with a Los Angeles County health order that requires universal masking at large outdoor events with more than 5,000 in attendance.
“Toddlers are being forced to wear masks all day long in school,” Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, tweeted Sunday. “Maybe one day they’ll be governor or the mayor of LA and they won’t have [to] follow the rules they impose on others.”
Other critics said it was an example of “rules for thee, not for me,” and questioned Gov. Newsom’s decision to keep the current state of emergency active.
The governor responded to the criticism Monday by reiterating that he wore a mask throughout the game unless he was eating or drinking and took his face covering off briefly to take a photo with Mr. Johnson.
“Magic was kind enough, generous enough to ask me for a photograph, and in my left hand is a mask and I took a photo. The rest of the time I wore it, as we all should,” Gov. Newsom said Monday.
Gov. Newsom also hinted Monday that he would be unveiling an “endemic” plan for COVID-19 in the next few weeks that will address “how we live with the virus” and what protocols should be in place.