Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser appeared to be celebrating at an event maskless hours before her own policy that mandates masks for citizens in the district was put into effect.
One picture that was uploaded to social media shows the Democratic mayor on July 30 surrounded by a large crowd of people, none of who appear to be wearing masks, at a gathering two days prior to her 49th birthday.
A second picture shows her next to award-winning-celebrity comedian Dave Chappelle along with three other people, none of whom had their faces covered.
The picture was taken for Chappelle’s return to the city of Washington on July 30, where the comedy icon appeared at two notable district venues over the weekend, according to a statement by Bowser’s office.
“DC is open and we are so proud to welcome home Dave Chappelle,” Bowser said. “Washingtonians have waited months to be able to enjoy shows like this one again, and it makes it even sweeter to be able to reopen one of our favorite venues with a performance from one of the world’s most beloved comedians and a DC native.”
Chappelle’s appearance marked the first live public event at The Anthem since March 2020. According to the statement, everyone was required to mask up at both the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The Anthem.
A new mask rule was announced by Bowser on July 29, requiring every resident, 2 years and older, to wear a mask indoors in Washington starting at 5 a.m. on July 31.
Bowser, who has been criticized in the past for ignoring her own CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions after visiting a “high-risk state,” is now facing a second round of backlash after she was seen not masking up.
Although the photos were taken shortly before the mask mandate went into effect and the mayor wasn’t technically breaking her own rules, the pictures that have since gone viral made people ponder how concerned the mayor is about the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.
“She’s a true believer it looks like! Just hours away from her mandate,” one person wrote on Twitter. “So much hypocrisy,” another raging commenter wrote.
Meanwhile, the mayor urged every citizen on July 31, just hours after she was seen at the event housing more than 20 people without a mask, that by “masking up” the community can be protected.
“Let’s stay in this together, DC,” Bowser said on Twitter. “By masking up, we can protect our community and keep DC open.”
According to mask guidance (pdf) by city officials, people who are fully vaccinated against the CCP virus can attend outdoor activities without a mask or social distancing. It is unclear if those attending the gatherings got inoculated against COVID-19.
On Aug. 1, one day after Bowser’s new policy requiring masks was put into effect, she was once again seen without a mask at a wedding she officiated.
The pictures, obtained by The Washington Examiner, show Bowser maskless at a table not actively eating or drinking. As a reporter for the agency tried to approach the mayor and question why she was maskless at an event legally obligated to enforce mask compliance, security blockaded them.
Bowser’s office has since pushed back against the criticism she received, saying that any photos taken of her indoors without a mask were during dinner.
“If Mayor Bowser was photographed indoors without a mask, it was during the indoor dinner, when she was eating or drinking,” the office said in a statement.
The mayor was previously criticized in November after she traveled to Delaware to attend the victory speech of President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, despite the state being listed as a high risk for the CCP virus at the time. She later defended her trip as “essential travel.”
“I do a lot of things to advance the interests of the District of Columbia,” Bowser said. “And some of them are formal, and some of them are informal, but all of them are necessary.”
She also said the trip was under official government business and “excepted under mayor’s order.”