Facing heavy criticism for being photographed without a mask during the NFC title game, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he held his breath during the snap.
Garcetti offered the explanation during a press conference last week in which he urged fans heading to Sunday’s Super Bowl to strictly adhere to pandemic safety protocols which include remaining masked, except in eating or drinking.
Taking a photo, Garcetti said, “I’m literally holding my breath for two seconds.”
“There’s zero percent risk of infection because of this. I’m putting my mask back on right away…to make sure there’s no spread. And I think we should all take that advice until we are out of this period.
Garcetti added that “people have common sense in this town and across the country.”
Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti says he held his breath for a maskless photo with Magic Johnson https://t.co/sonD5efrJ9
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) February 3, 2022
Newsom also photographed without a mask at the game
Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed were also pictured without a mask at the game. The three Democrats have been accused of hypocrisy for lecturing residents about conscientiously wearing masks in public, while footage of the game that has circulated widely online suggested they set different rules for themselves.
Newsom, like Garcetti, said he only removed his mask briefly during the game, although photographs online sometimes showed him wearing his mask in his seat, other times not.
LA has high levels of COVID infections
The Los Angeles area continues to experience high levels of COVID-19 infections, and ticket holders ages 5 and older must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter. Under a Los Angeles County health ordinance, masks are mandatory at all times, with some exceptions.
The Super Bowl’s biggest challenge may not be on the field, with officials acknowledging there was no way to constantly check 70,000 people. During Sunday’s championship game at SoFi Stadium near Los Angeles, where the Super Bowl will be played, thousands of fans blatantly ignored the mask mandate.
“You can’t force everyone to wear a mask all the time,” said James Butts, mayor of Inglewood, where the stadium is located. “At the end of the day, it’s people’s responsibility to take care of themselves, their families and their friends. And that’s the easiest way to put it.
But flagrant violators could receive a recall.
Taking off a mask to take a bite of a snack “doesn’t mean buying a bucket of popcorn and eating it for two hours,” warned Russ Simons, senior stadium facilities adviser. “Staff are there to remind people to mask up.”