Ralph Northam, Virginia’s governor, toured Virginia Beach with his entourage on Saturday. He stopped to talk with folks, at least one of whom took a selfie with Northam.
Northam and his fan were no more than a foot apart when the woman snapped the selfie. The governor has instructed Virginians to maintain a “social distance” of six feet.
Northam was not wearing a mask. Although Virginia hasn’t yet required that masks be worn, Northam says “we know that these masks. . .protect folks, they save lives. . .especially indoors.” Northam was outdoors when he toured Virginia Beach, but it would seem to follow from his pronouncements that he should wear a mask when a foot or less from a stranger.
Northam is expected to issue a policy on masks as part of his phased reopening plan for the state. He has said that mandatory mask wearing could be a component of his plan.
Readers may recall that Northam’s executive orders led to the pastor of a Virginia church being cited for holding a church service. There were sixteen people in the church sanctuary, which seats 225. The congregation in question serves, among others, recovering drug addicts and former prostitutes.
So it’s okay for Northam, without a mask, to have close encounters with constituents, but not okay for sixteen people seeking spiritual healing to spread out in a church with a seating capacity of 225.
It’s difficult to take government pronouncements and policies regarding the pandemic seriously when leaders behave like Ralph Northam.