Few countries seem immune to the perception that politicians and officials are bending the safety rules that their own governments wrote during the pandemic.
From U.S. President Donald Trump to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, global decision-makers have frequently set bad examples, whether it’s refusing to wear masks or breaking confinement rules aimed at protecting their populations from COVID-19.
The decision to wear a mask in public is becoming a political statement in the U.S. It’s been stoked by Trump — who didn’t wear a mask during an appearance at a facility making them — and some other Republicans, who have questioned the value of masks. This month, pandemic politics shadowed Trump’s trip to Michigan as he toured a factory making lifesaving medical devices. He did not publicly wear a face covering despite a warning from the state’s top law enforcement officer that refusing to do so might lead to a ban on his return.
Vice President Mike Pence was criticized for not wearing a mask while on a visit to the Mayo Clinic.
Locally, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was recently seen at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront without wearing a mask. This came just a few days before he announced a statewide order that mandates the wearing of masks on public transportation, stores, restaurants or anywhere where people can congregate in groups.
Northam stated in Tuesday's press conference that after speaking with reporters at the Oceanfront, residents were asking to take photos with him. He claimed his mask was in his car and that even politicians are getting used to the "new normal".
Some of these officials are punished when they’re caught, others publicly repent, while a few just shrug off the violations all while the coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 350,000 lives.