Toward the end of a riveting NFC Championship game at SoFi stadium in Inglewood yesterday, the camera singled out a number of famous names in attendance. They included Leo DiCaprio, Jessica Alba, Magic Johnson and California Governor Gavin Newsom. None of them was wearing a mask.
Johnson later tweeted a series of photos from the event featuring himself and a number of others in a luxury box overlooking the field. They included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and California Governor Gavin Newsom. No masks are visiable in the the Newsom photo, despite a local public health officer order requiring them and repeated reminders from Los Angeles County Public Health officials over the past two weeks that masks must be worn at such mega events, even at outdoor gatherings.
The images were met with derision and anger by Newsom’s political opponents and also by some parents objecting to their children having to wear masks in public when the governor isn’t.
Hanging out at SoFi Stadium today! pic.twitter.com/XfotiRLGz9
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 31, 2022
Asked today about the issue, Newsom indicated he only doffed his mask for the photo.
“You’re correct,” he said when asked about going maskless. “I was very judicious yesterday. Very judicious. You’ll see the photo that I did take, Magic was kind enough, generous enough, to ask me for a photograph and in my left hand’s the mask and I took the photo. The rest of the time I wore it as we all should, um — not when I had a glass of water — and I encourage everybody else to do so. And, uh, that’s it.”
In the photo of the two which Johnson posted, however, there is no mask in Newsom’s left hand. The image could, of course, have been flipped before it was posted.
Newsom, of course, came under fire for going maskless at the French Laundry restaurant early in the pandemic, even as he was beginning to tighten rules around public gatherings, including masking.
Asked if he should he have reconsidered taking off his masking, given his history with this issue, the governor responded, “Yes, of course. I was trying to be gracious. I made a mis — I was trying to be gracious. I took the mask off for a brief second but, no, I encourage people to continue to wear them.”
The footage shown during the game, however, seemed to tell a different story. It begins with a shot of a maskless Jessica Alba before cutting to a smiling Magic Johnson as a man who appears from the back to be the governor — similar height, similar trucker hat, similar navy blue fleece — walks up and moves to slap hands. Neither Johnson — who given his age and HIV status is in a high risk category for Covid — nor the man who approaches him are wearing masks. See the brief moment below.
Jessica Alba, Magic Johnson & Leonardo DiCaprio at the game #nfl #LARams #49ers pic.twitter.com/3njIHlipjF
— Breaking Trends News (@breakingtrendsn) January 31, 2022
Los Angeles Public Health officials even went so far as to warn the game’s attendees that they are “required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, at the event, except while actively eating and drinking.” See the full statement below.
All those attending the NFC Championship game must be fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative test. If attendees are providing a negative test result, it must be either a PCR test taken within 2 days of the event or an antigen test taken within 1 day of the event. Attendees are also required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, at the event, except while actively eating and drinking.
In a video Q&A before the game, County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer stated specifically about games at SoFi, including this month’s Super Bowl, that attendees “have to wear a mask unless they are actively eating or drinking.” You can see that in the video in the following string.
Today at SoFi we never wore masks. Celebrities, Newsom, Garcetti weren't wearing masks.
Contrast this w/Ferrer's dsc of rules she says have been in place for months.
"They have to wear a mask unless they are actively eating or drinking."
Who can explain this major disconnect? pic.twitter.com/YuB01s620f
— Cynthia LA Parent #UrgencyofNormal (@cynrojasla) January 31, 2022
To be fair, Newsom and the mayors of two of the state’s largest cities and the celebs in attendance were not alone. A quick glance behind victorious Rams QB Matthew Stafford during his postgame interview on Fox showed many, many fans in attendance were not wearing masks, either, even as they cheered their team’s win.
Of course, while fans and celebrities are private citizens, elected leaders are generally held to a higher standard and, well, expected to lead, especially on policies they themselves have promulgated.
What all this means for the coming Super Bowl at SoFi remains an open question. Los Angeles and NFL officials are bound to be asked about it, especially since they are already on the record assuring Angelenos that attendees at the game will be required have “layered protection,” including vaccination or a negative test and masks so that the televised mega event does not also become a super spreader event.
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