Every Mayor, Governor Accused of Breaking COVID Restrictions—and Why

A vacation in Mexico, Thanksgiving dinners and an election party. These are just some of the reasons why officials have apologized for breaking lockdown rules in recent months.

Governors and mayors have been announcing restrictions aimed to help stop the spread of coronavirus throughout the pandemic.

Some, however, appear to maybe not have been playing by their own rules.

Republican governors have faced fewer accusations, largely because they have not implemented as many of the restrictions that public health experts have called for.
One, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, did face backlash after tweeting that he had taken his family to a "packed" restaurant in March—a day before announcing a state of emergency.

These well-known figures have all been accused of breaching anti-COVID guidelines. Some have issued apologies, others have stood by their actions. Here's the rundown...

Austin Mayor, Steve Adler

Steve Adler
Austin Mayor Steve Adler vacationed in Mexico in early November, as he told residents of the city to "stay home" amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In this photo, Adler is pictured on October 22, 2017 in Paris, France, during an event called "CityLab 2017." PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty

In early November, as coronavirus case counts, hospitalizations and death counts rose, Adler urged residents in Austin, Texas, to stay home and "not relax" about the pandemic.

However, Adler—it later emerged—had issued his rallying call while he vacationed for a week in, Mexico.

He had gone to Cabo San Lucas with seven other people, the Austin American-Statesman first reported, following his daughter's outdoor wedding and reception with 20 guests at an Austin hotel.

At that time, people in Austin were being asked to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more, but there were no travel bans.

Adler told the local newspaper: "It is safest to stay home. However, we aren't asking people to never venture out. We ask everyone to be as safe as possible when they do."

Denver Mayor, Michael Hancock

Denver Michael Hancock
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock participates in a panel discussion during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 'Infrastructure Week' program May 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. Hancock boarded a fight on Wednesday despite warning Denver residents to avoid traveling over Thanksgiving. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Mexico was not the only controversial destination of choice for mayors this Thanksgiving.

"Pass the potatoes, not COVID... Avoid travel," Hancock wrote last week as he sat in an airport en route to a family get-together in Mississippi.

Moments before boarding the plane, he also told his followers to "avoid travel, if you can," "stay home as much as you can," and "host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners."

He later apologized. "I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head," he said. His spokesperson said Hancock would be self-isolating for 14 days after he returns.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Governor Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (R) looks on as California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell (L) speaks during a news conference at the California Department of Public Health in Sacramento, California. n February 27, 2020. Newsom apologised in November after being photographed dining with a group of people in Napa Valley. Justin Sullivan/Getty

California Governor Newsom apologized last month after being photographed at an up-market restaurant in Napa Valley, with a group of prominent lobbyists.

The pictures, first published in the San Francisco Chronicle, showed no-one, including California Medical Association representatives, wearing face masks at the Michelin-starred French Laundry where some plates cost $450.

State guidelines limited private gatherings to three households outdoors, however, those for restaurants were less defined. They said owners should "limit the number of patrons at a single table to a household unit or patrons who have asked to be seated together."

"As soon as I sat down at the larger table I realized it was a little larger group than I had anticipated and I made a bad mistake," Newsom said of the dinner at the French Laundry. "Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up and walked back, got in my car and drove back to my house."

The governor has been self-quarantining recently after a student at his child's school tested positive for COVID.

Washington D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks to members of the press after she visited art installation "In America How Could This Happen..." at the DC Armory parade ground on November 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. Bowser defended her trip to Delaware after the presidential election. Alex Wong/Getty

Bowser was accused of violating her own travel rules to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory last month. The Democrat made a roughly 90-mile trip to Delaware, where Biden was based, in order to celebrate.

At the time, Delaware was one of 42 states deemed high-risk by D.C., meaning residents who have traveled to one should limit daily activities and self-monitor for 14 days. However, the guideline exempts essential travel.

Bowser declined to quarantine and defended the trip, saying it was "essential travel."

San Jose Mayor, Sam Liccardo

San Jose
Mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo is seen backstage at the Watermark Conference for Women 2018 at San Jose Convention Center on February 23, 2018 in San Jose, California. Liccardo has apologized for breaking COVID-19 guidelines by celebrating Thanksgiving with extended family members. Marla Aufmuth//Getty

Texan mayor Sam Liccardo apologised this week for attending a Thanksgiving dinner, which was attended by seven other family members.

In total, five households were present at the dinner—more than the rules allowed. Earlier this month California ordered that social gatherings be limited to a maximum of three.

NBC first reported that Liccardo celebrated Thanksgiving with his elderly parents at their Saratoga house along with an unknown group of people.

Following the revelations, the Californian mayor said: "I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules, by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family. I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better."

Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot

Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at Wrigley Field on April 16, 2020 in Chicago Illinois. She has defended her decision to get a haircut in April, when many others could not. Jonathan Daniel/Getty

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, defended her decision to get a haircut from a professional stylist in April while salons were shutting down under the state's stay-at-home order.

The Democrat had previously said that "getting your roots done is not essential."

Speaking a few days after the controversy arose, she said: "I'm the public face of this city. I'm on national media and I'm out in the public eye."

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty

He did not break the rules. But, some would argue, he came mightily close.

Ahead of Thanksgiving, the governor was warning his fellow New Yorkers that family gatherings could be dangerous amid growing case counts across the U.S.

Yet his interview with radio station WAMC shortly before the holidays caused a stir.

"My mom is going to come up and two of my girls," he said. That is his 89-year-old mother, Matilda, and two of his daughters, one of whom lives in Chicago.

His comments were met by a backlash, and Cuomo canceled his plans.