Mayor London Breed responded Thursday to an outcry this week over news that she had dined with a group of unrelated people at the French Laundry four weeks ago, just one day after Governor Gavin Newsom attended a birthday dinner there and received national criticism for being a hypocrite when it comes to pandemic safety.
This criticism is fair. 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. What I especially regret is that the urgency of our public health message in this moment has never been more dire and my actions have distracted from that. We're in a much different place than even just a few weeks ago and we need everyone to do their part, starting with me.
The dinner in question happened on Saturday, November 7, and Breed reportedly dined with seven other people in celebration of the 60th birthday of SF socialite Goretti Lo Lui. The dinner happened at a table in a semi-enclosed space at the restaurant, like Newsom's dinner the night before, and it was not in any violation of state or county public health guidelines at the time.
It's not clear if the French Laundry is still seating people at these semi-enclosed tables now that Napa County has entered the "Purple" tier.
In addition to the cases of Newsom and Breed turning up at the French Laundry the same month as a massive spike in COVID cases across the state that has prompted both of them to make grave public recommendations about staying home and avoiding social gatherings, two others made the news in the last week. First there was Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who voted to ban outdoor dining in the county and then was spotted having a meal at an outdoor table at a Santa Monica restaurant hours later. And then there was San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who violated guidelines he was publicly encouraging by dining with his parents and members of five different households on Thanksgiving Day.
All four politicians, as the Chronicle's Editorial Board puts it, are "now charter members of the 'Do As I Say, Not As I Do' club. They look foolish and hypocritical, doubly so when they issue so-sorry statements." And they write that by flouting the public-health guidance themselves (though, technically, Newsom and Breed did not violate any guidelines), they've made the job of corralling a weary public into further restrictive behavior "more challenging" amid soaring new virus cases.
Not to mention they've made themselves targets for Fox News and all the anti-masking, pro-Trump, conspiracy-loving lunatics on social media who remain convinced that people aren't dying and hospitals aren't full because they aren't in one yet. (SFist has a few gadflies of its own on social media who like to scream "stop protecting the Dems!" and "hospitals are empty it's a hoax" on a near-daily basis.)
So, do your best to stay distant from others and vigilant in public spaces. More strict orders may be coming. And let's all accept that no one is perfect and we're all longing for nomalcy but yes, these politicians should have known better.