MICHIGAN Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has come under fire after she was pictured violating state Covid rules as she sat unmasked with a large group of friends in a crowded bar.
In an image published to Facebook, Whitmer was seen inside an East Lansing bar and restaurant with 12 others huddled around three tables that had been pushed together.
However, the gathering came in violation of her own health department's current pandemic orders.
As of May 15, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services demands that no more than six people can be seated together at one time and groups of patrons must remain six feet apart.
The photo, captured inside Landshark, was first published on Facebook but later deleted after it was shared widely across multiple social media platforms.
Also pictured in attendance was Whitmer's chief operations officer, Tricia Foster.
Whitmer received her second vaccination dose on April 29, meaning she is considered fully vaccinated.
But the governor was criticized widely on Twitter, including by Tori Sachs, the executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund, who accused her of hypocrisy.
"Capacity limits, patrons per table limits, curfews & other ridiculous restrictions need to end immediately," Sachs said. "She isn’t even abiding by those rules.
"A year after the boat episode & Whitmer and those around her still don’t think their Covid rules apply to them."
Sachs later spoke to Breitbart, in which she said that Whitmer has "once again completely disregarded her own rules."
"Whitmer orders rules she and her staff don’t follow themselves while Michiganders and businesses suffer. Whitmer must end her restrictions immediately," Sachs reiterated.
Amid the mounting criticizm, Whitmer issued an apology through an emailed statement.
"Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been committed to following public health protocols," she said. "Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn't stop to think about it.
"In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize."
Restrictions on restaurants and bars have arisen as a point of constant contention for Whitmer's administration since the pandemic struck last spring.
After a second surge of Covid-19 cases began sweeping across the state in Spring, the governor closed indoor dining statewide for 75 days.
Restaurants were permitted to reopen at 25 percent capacity on February 1, which was later expanded to 50 percent on March 5.
A spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party also accused Whitmer of hypocrisy to Detroit News.
"For Gov. Whitmer, it's rules for thee but not for me," Goodman said.
This is also not the first time Whitmer has come under fire for apparent missteps during the pandemic.
In March, she took a private jet trip to see her father in Florida during a state surge in Covid cases as other Michiganders were warned against traveling south for spring break.
Whitmer said she cooked and cleaned for her father during the trip because he suffers from a chronic illness.
"For anyone to be surprised that I have a family member who’s been having a lot of health issues that I showed up to check in … they’re obviously not paying attention to who I am or what I do," Whitmer said at the time.
Earlier this week, Whitmer announced that her administration will end outdoor capacity limits and increase indoor limits to 50 percent on June 1.
A month later the state's broad mask mandate and gathering orders will also come to an end.
Michigan experienced a surge of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations that peaked in mid-April.
The case rates have been generally decreasing for five weeks.
As of Sunday, Michigan ranks third in the in the nation for new cases per population, CDC data shows.
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