SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Mayor London Breed has been caught violating a San Francisco health order at a jazz club in the Tenderloin.
Breed was recorded Wednesday night at The Black Cat dancing and singing along to the band’s performance in an intimate setting packed with maskless guests. She is among the guests seen without a mask.
On Friday, the mayor didn’t apologize and didn’t back down after videos of her circulated. Instead, she called the fact that the video is making news “sad”.
“This is nitpicking. This is really unfortunate and let me tell you when the spirit moves you because you were watching history in the making, Bay Area royalty perform, I don’t know about you but I’m not gonna turn around and look for where my mask is or look to see you make sure I’m picking up a drink,” she said. “I’m just gonna let the spirit move me.”
In San Francisco, face masks are required inside certain businesses, like restaurants and bars. The Black Cat jazz lounge is also a bar and bistro and was serving drinks at the time.
Mayor Breed’s position is she was following the health order because she was dancing at her table with food and drinks in a club where proof of vaccination is required.
The city went back to requiring face masks inside on August 3, even if patrons are fully vaccinated.
The order requires “wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public settings. Indoor settings, whether public or private, are higher risk for COVID-19 transmission, especially when you are with people you do not live with.”
Some exceptions apply. People are allowed to remove the mask, but only when actively eating or drinking.
The order adds, “For clarity, Well-Fitted Masks may be removed while actively eating or drinking at events other than indoor dining, such as live performances and movies.”
At one point in the video posted by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, both of Breed’s hands are visible while she is standing and dancing along, and she is not seen holding food or a drink. The clip goes on for one minute without her taking a sip or a bite of food.
The mayor called the media attention a distraction to the fact that San Francisco has done an incredible job around COVID, and that we can have live performances in the city once again.
While the mayor called her mask-less dancing a non-story, infectious disease experts say it sends the wrong message in the wake of San Francisco’s mask mandate.
“Anybody who goes to a club where its small and lots of people crowded together and people are singing and yelling and no one has a mask on, you are asking for trouble this is a setting for a super spreader event,” Dr. John Swartzberg, U.C. Infectious Disease Specialist, said.
The order does allow people to remove their well-fitted mask while actively eating or drinking, but the mayor was caught on video not eating or drinking, but dancing without a mask amidst a sea of other mask less audience members.
“At the end of the day Mayor Breed is human and maybe it illustrates all of the frustration we’ve been feeling all these months,” UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said.
But Chin-Hong said there are clear lessons to be learned from this.
“If there’s virus circulating round you don’t know if someone who is vaccinated has infection that is asymptomatic in a closed space, I think the lesson is wear a mask as much as you can until the amount of virus in the community goes down, which we are heading to but we are not there quite yet,” Dr. Chin-Hong said.