Photos of a maskless Muriel Bowser, her office said, were taken “during the indoor dinner, when she was eating or drinking.”
Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., is pushing back against conservative media slamming her for going maskless at a wedding this weekend after her office reinstated an indoor mask mandate in the wake of rising coronavirus cases due to the delta variant.
“If Mayor Bowser was photographed indoors without a mask, it was during the indoor dinner, when she was eating or drinking,” the mayor’s office told WTOP in a statement.
Bowser officiated the ceremony, which was held on a rooftop. She also attended the dinner immediately following. “The Mayor wore a mask indoors in compliance with the mandate,” her office said, “and the organizers and venue staff worked to create a safe environment for the staff and guests.”
According to WTOP, there are photoraphs of the bride, groom and other wedding guests dancing and posing for pictures without masks. Bowser is reportedly not in any of the photos.
There is a single photo of Bowser at the event, in which she sits at a table maskless, that was run in the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner.
Saturday’s wedding came a day after Bowser posed for photos with Washington, D.C. native Dave Chappelle at a different event Friday night. The mask mandate went into effect at 5 a.m. on Saturday.
“The mask mandate is for indoor settings (excluding while eating and drinking) and does not apply to outdoor settings. DC is open, and the mask guidance helps provide residents, workers and visitors an extra layer of protection while continuing their daily activities,” said the mayor’s office.
“We continue to emphasize everyone should be vaccinated as soon as possible and to wear a mask at indoor public settings to protect yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors,” the statement reads.
According to the official District website, an estimated 62% of the Washington, D.C. population is partially or fully vaccinated.
The newly reinstated mask mandate is for everyone over the age of 2 who is indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
“We want to get ahead of it and nip it in the bud,” Bowser said at a press conference announcing the new mandate, according to DCist. “We know that masks can be very effective in doing that.”
According to a local report, small businesses are worried about how reinstated mask mandates could affect their customers.
“Our sign-ups got cut down in half as soon as that happened,” Debra Mishalove, founder and creative director of Flow Yoga Center, told WTOP. “I’ve seen so many businesses close — small and large gyms, fitness studios, boutique studios — and everyone’s struggling so much.”
Mishalove said she’s hoping there will be more support for businesses like hers as the pandemic wears on.
“I have testimonial after testimonial that fitness facilities have been what has gotten people through this pandemic so far, so we want to keep being able to offer that to the community,” she said. “But at this point, I’m not sure how much longer we will last.”
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