SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Five California legislative assembly members dined together outdoors Monday despite surging coronavirus case levels that have triggered stay at home orders for much of the state’s population.
The lawmakers ate dinner outside at a Sacramento restaurant, hours after a swearing-in session that had been moved from the state Capitol to the Golden 1 Center to guarantee sufficient social distancing spacing for legislators, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday.
State rules are silent as to how many households can dine together outdoors at restaurants, but health officials have implored people to limit outside gatherings to no more than three households. Over the weekend, strict new shutdowns requiring people to stay home save for essential trips took effect in Southern California, much of the San Francisco Bay Area and a chunk of the Central Valley.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed are among elected officials who have been criticized in recent weeks for breaking not only the spirit of the pandemic health rules but their own exhortations for people to stay home. The Democrats, in separate outings, both dined at the posh and pricey French Laundry restaurant in Napa County with too many people.
Monday’s dinner at Sacramento’s Maydoon included Adrin Nazarian, D-West Toluca Lake, Chad Mayes, I-Rancho Mirage, Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas, Marc Levine, D-Marin County, and Chris Ward, D-San Diego, the newspaper reported.
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When asked by a Sacramento Bee reporter about the multi-household meal, Nazarian responded by asking, “Can we not have dinner?”Boerner Horvath pulled her scarf up to cover her nose and left the table. Her chief of staff, Rob Charles, said in a phone call that the members had tested negative for COVID-19 and were following Sacramento County’s COVID-19 requirements.
Mayes said he “thought we were following all the rules because we were sitting outside,” and added that the rules have been hard to follow.
"Legislators, just like everybody else – I don’t want to start beating other people up – but they think they’re very unclear," he said.
Legislators are considered essential workers and can travel. Members were required to be tested for COVID-19 before participating in Monday’s ceremony.