Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who has been a vocal advocate of social distancing to keep coronavirus cases down in Texas’ capital city, was reported by local media Wednesday to have hosted a wedding for his daughter in early November with 20 guests, twice the recommended limit under the city’s coronavirus guidelines at the time, and to have vacationed in Mexico as he encouraged residents to “stay home if you can,” a move called hypocritical by some Austinites.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Adler and seven other guests at the wedding traveled on a private jet to Cabo, Mexico the day after the wedding, where the Statesman reports the mayor recorded a video encouraging Austin residents to hunker down at home to prevent a rise in coronavirus cases: “We need to stay home if you can. This is not the time to relax,” he said.
However, Adler maintains that he did not violate his own orders, telling the newspaper he consulted health authorities before the wedding, had guests tested for coronavirus, gave out masks and encouraged social distancing—he also said his travel party in Cabo was in a “pod” and following safety precautions, and at the time, Austin coronavirus guidelines were not yet discouraging travel.
This week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Florida Gov. Gavin Newsom found themselves in hot water after it was revealed they had dinner at the same Michelin-starred Napa restaurant French Laundry within a day of each other, despite state guidelines that strongly discourage gatherings of people from multiple households, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock also apologized on social media Monday for traveling to spend Thanksgiving with family in Mississippi after he told his constituents to stay home.
In September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faced nationwide blowback after a trip to a hair salon that should have been closed under California state orders, which Pelosi and a hair stylist involved said was a setup by a business owner angry over coronavirus closings.
“I regret this travel,” Adler said in a statement released after the story made headlines. “I wouldn’t travel now, didn’t over Thanksgiving and won’t over Christmas. But my fear is that this travel, even happened during a safer period, could be used by some as a justification for risky behavior. In hindsight, and even though it violated no order, it set a bad example for which I apologize.”
A fall surge in coronavirus infections nationwide is expected to be exacerbated by Thanksgiving gatherings and travel. While widespread vaccination may be possible as early as summer 2021, health experts are urging Americans to continue social distancing, wearing masks and getting tested for coronavirus to battle the disease in the meantime.
Austin mayor stressed residents ‘need to stay home.’ He was vacationing in Cabo at the time (Austin American-Statesman)