Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer apologized on Sunday for ignoring her state’s pandemic restrictions on dining indoors, after a photo appeared of her in a group of 13 eating in a restaurant in East Lansing. On May 15, the state’s department of health ordered that groups of no more than six can sit together inside restaurants, and that tables must be at least six feet apart.
“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been committed to following public health protocols,” Whitmer wrote in a statement. “On Saturday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it. In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize.”
Though the unforced error is relatively minor, it is not the first time that the governor — who was the target of an alleged kidnapping plot because of the state’s lockdown measures — broke her state’s coronavirus recommendations. On March 12, Whitmer flew to Palm Beach, Florida, for three days to visit her father, who is chronically ill. Whitmer was not yet vaccinated at the time, and did not self-quarantine after returning on March 15, despite state health department guidelines encouraging Michiganders to quarantine for a week after air travel. The rules-for-thee controversy occurred around the same time that her administration advised residents not to travel, shortly before the state’s considerable surge this spring.
Whitmer is not the only Democratic leader to attract criticism during the pandemic for casting aside local coronavirus protocols on dining. On the Friday after the election, California governor Gavin Newsom dined with medical lobbyists at a private party at the triple-Michelin-starred French Laundry. Though they were outside, the semi-enclosed space was permanent enough to have a chandelier. The group was also made up of several different households, which violated the state’s pandemic recommendations. The night after Newsom’s get-together, San Francisco mayor London Breed traveled to attend a birthday party at the same Napa Valley restaurant, breaking the same guideline about household gatherings.
Unfortunately for Whitmer, she would not have had to wait long for her meal in East Lansing to be a non-controversy. On Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services rescinded its May 15 restriction of six diners to a party, an easement which will go into effect on June 1. Whitmer claimed the decision to roll out the new guideline “was made well before the weekend” of her discontent.