When Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Thursday that she would reimpose a citywide indoor mask mandate beginning on Saturday at 5:00 a.m., some people wondered what the wait was for. (Many others wondered why the mandate was necessary at all, given that deaths and hospitalizations have both been in the single digits in recent weeks.)
Well, it appears that someone had a birthday to celebrate on Friday.
Social media sleuths have discovered pictures of the mayor and her friends partying without masks in a seemingly well-ventilated though partly indoor space. This was not a small, intimate gathering, either: Comedian Dave Chappelle even made an appearance. Bowser turns 49 on Tuesday.
— John J. Falcicchio (@falcicchio) July 31, 2021
The mayor's office did not respond to requests for comment from media outlets. Technically, Bowser didn't break the rules—the new mask mandate had not gone into effect yet—and as long as everyone was vaccinated, this kind of gathering is quite safe. But this is still rank hypocrisy. At the same time that Bowser was partying maskless with celebrities, her Twitter feed was imploring people to "mask up" more generally.
Let's stay in this together, DC. By masking up, we can protect our community and keep DC open.
Read the latest mask guidance: https://t.co/PsVCaHcKad
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) July 30, 2021
Whether or not Bowser deliberately delayed the mask mandate until a few hours after her party had wrapped up, this is bad behavior from a public official. There are a great many vaccinated people in D.C. who would like to celebrate their birthdays this month (disclaimer: I'm one of them), but if they party in public, in many circumstances they will need to wear masks to comply with the mayor's decree. No, this isn't the greatest burden in the world—but it is a needless burden. Despite the recent paranoia about the delta strain of COVID-19, the vaccines are holding up remarkably well at preventing severe disease and death.
Throughout the pandemic, politicians and bureaucrats have asked the citizens to make tremendous sacrifices. But time and time again, they have shown us that they are not willing to do the same. The people are expected to mask up and stay 6 feet apart, but our government leaders? Well, you only turn 49 once.
Update: Bowser also officiated a maskless wedding—and this event transpired after the mandate had taken effect. "The wedding reception featured hundreds of unmasked guests served by dozens of wait staff, including a conspicuously unmasked Bowser," according to The Washington Examiner's Tiana Lowe.