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Rhode Island governor Raimondo becomes latest Democrat caught flouting own Covid lockdown rules

Rhode Island governor Raimondo becomes latest Democrat caught flouting own Covid lockdown rules
Gina Raimondo, the Democrat governor of Rhode Island, has been savaged by her constituents after she was photographed flouting her state’s coronavirus shutdown orders. She’s far from the first lockdown-backer to be caught.

The governor was photographed sans mask during a Providence restaurant’s “wine and paint” event last Friday, just days after she urged Rhode Islanders to stay home “except for essential activities” and wear a mask “anytime you’re with people you don’t live with.

Rhode Islanders have come out of the woodwork to condemn her hypocrisy since the picture went viral earlier this week, with many noting it’s not the first time she’s held herself to another standard than the rest of the state.

Not only was Raimondo out and about with her face uncovered in defiance of her own pandemic advisory, but the photo was taken a day before Rhode Island’s Department of Health head tested positive for Covid-19. However, Raimondo tweeted on Sunday that she had tested negative for the virus twice, meaning she was unlikely to have been contagious at the restaurant.

The photographer, Erica Oliveras, insists she had no idea the shot would garner so much negative publicity and has struggled to make excuses for Raimondo to local media. “She only took her mask off whenever she was drinking her wine,” Oliveras told ABC affiliate WLNE, pointing out the governor was ‘masked up’ when she entered the restaurant and when interacting with waitstaff.

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However, the photo of Raimondo bare-faced shows her wine glass planted firmly on the table. Providence resident Susan Goodman had little patience for the governor’s apologists, delivering a withering “Shame on you, Gina” and reminding her “You can drink wine at home.”

Restaurants in Rhode Island are permitted to operate only at 33 percent capacity and must close by 10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, but "bar areas" have been ordered to remain closed and social distancing is supposed to be strictly enforced. Indoor “entertainment facilities,” including gyms, are closed until December 20.

Raimondo is the latest in a growing string of Democratic politicians to be caught defying their own lockdown guidance. Both California Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed were photographed at upscale Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry, dining indoors with friends in flagrant defiance of statewide shutdown orders. The Michelin-starred restaurant received over $2.4 million in taxpayer-funded loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program even as thousands of fellow small business owners in California were forced to close their doors, many for good.

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was spotted at a restaurant dining outdoors last month, just a few hours after voting to shut down outdoor dining across the county. Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, Texas, warned his constituents to stay home and “not relax” their vigilance against the virus threat - while he himself was on vacation in Mexico.

The mayor of Denver, Colorado, Michael Hancock, similarly ordered residents to “avoid travel” while waiting to board a cross-country flight to a family gathering in Mississippi. And both Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were caught getting haircuts from professional stylists even as hair salons remained closed for the hoi polloi. 

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