LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is facing major criticism for being pictured without a mask at last weekend's NFC title game in SoFi Stadium, claimed Wednesday that he held his breath whenever removing his mask.
Garcetti took a photo with Lakers legend Magic Johnson, both unmasked, at Sunday's game between the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers. California Gov. Gavin Newsom also took an unmasked photo with Magic as well at the game. Both photos went viral and prompted significant controversy.
Under L.A. County guidelines, all fans attending the game were required to wear masks when not actively eating or drinking.
Garcetti was among local officials at a news briefing Wednesday in Inglewood to discuss COVID-19 safety protocols that will be in place for the upcoming Super Bowl. Garcetti addressed the controversy, telling CBSLA that when he was asked for a picture, he would remove his mask and hold his breath
"I'm used to criticism as a public figure, I've been wearing a mask the entire game long," Garcetti said. "People want a picture, I hold my breath. Zero risk. I probably won't do it any more because it's a distraction."
Garcetti even demonstrated how he holds his breath.
Along with wearing masks, those attending the Super Bowl will be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within two days of the game.
Large numbers of fans at Sunday's game appeared to not be wearing masks, and in response to the Newsom and Garcetti controversy, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger called on public health officials to ease the mask mandate.
"Let's do away with blanket COVID-19 masking policies — they don't make a difference when they're not consistently followed or enforced," Barger said in a statement Monday. "We need to trust the public to make the best personal decisions for themselves based on their unique risks and circumstances."
Meanwhile, Russ Simons, senior vice president for campus and facility operations for SoFi Stadium, claimed Wednesday that the mask mandate at the Super Bowl would be enforced.
"That doesn't mean you buy a bucket of popcorn and eat it for two hours. Actively eating and drinking," he reiterated. "We're on to you."
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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