Mayor London Breed said “I need to hold myself to a higher standard” in response to criticism of a recent meal at a Napa Valley restaurant. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Mayor London Breed said “I need to hold myself to a higher standard” in response to criticism of a recent meal at a Napa Valley restaurant. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Breed calls criticism for French Laundry trip ‘fair’

Mayor said she regrets that actions ‘distracted’ from public health message as COVID-19 cases rise

Mayor London Breed on Thursday called criticism of attending a dinner party in Napa Valley “fair” and expressed regret for the timing as coronavirus cases proliferate.

Breed dined with seven others in early November at the upscale Yountville restaurant French Laundry in a partially enclosed room outdoors, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported earlier this week. Indoor dining was allowed in Napa County at the time but social gatherings were strongly discouraged.

Three days later, Breed barred indoor dining in San Francisco due to rapidly rising coronavirus cases.

“It doesn’t matter whether something is technically allowed or not — I need to hold myself to a higher standard and I will do better,” Breed wrote.

Breed attended the gathering one night after Gov. Gavin Newsom attended an even larger gathering at the same upscale restaurant for a lobbyist, in an event that has drawn widespread criticism.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has also drawn heat for attending an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner with four other households, exceeding state guidelines for private gatherings of no more than three households, after telling people to cancel plans for big gatherings amid the holidays.

Breed specifically called a San Francisco Chronicle editorial “fair” in noting that the three California politicians look hypocritical and are now in the “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” club.

Such actions have damaged their credibility at a time when coronavirus cases are at their highest point in the pandemic and holiday gatherings are expected to overwhelm hospitals, leading to more deaths.

“What I especially regret is that the urgency of our public health message in this moment has never been more dire and my actions have distracted from that,” Breed added Thursday. “We’re in a much different place than even just a few weeks ago and we need everyone to do their part, starting with me.”

The statement came shortly before Newsom announced on Thursday that shelter-in-place orders will again take effect for regions with low intensive care capacity; the order is expected to take effect in the Bay Area in mid-to-late December. Intensive care unit beds in the region are 72 percent full and are projected to be fully occupied by early January without further measures.

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