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'COVID Fatigue Is Exhausting'; Newsom Offers Mea Culpa For Attending Party During Pandemic Surge

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- After announcing a return to tough restrictions statewide amid a surge in COVID cases Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized for a slip in his own behavior for attending a friend's birthday party at an exclusive wine country restaurant.

Newsom has drawn criticism for attended a Nov. 6 50th birthday party for Jason Kinney, one of his political advisers, at the world-renowned French Laundry in Yountville. The party hosted more than 12 people from outside the household, which defies state guidelines on public gatherings during the pandemic.

"I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge something before we go into the Q and A," the governor said during his weekly COVID update news conference on Monday. "A few weeks ago I was asked to go to a friend's 50th birthday -- my wife and I -- a friend that I have known for almost 20 years. A friend who had put a lot of time and energy into his 50th birthday."

"It was in Napa, which was in the Orange status, relatively loose compared to some other counties. It was to be at an outdoor restaurant and we started -- well the program started at 4 o'clock. It was one of those early reservations. I got there a little late at 4:30 and as soon as I sat down at the larger table, I realized it was a little larger group than I had anticipated."

Newsom then said he "made a bad mistake."

"Instead of sitting down," he said. "I should have stood up and walked back and got in my car and drove back to my house. Instead, I chose to sit there with my wife and a number of other couples that were outside the household. You can quibble about the guidelines ... but the spirit of what I'm preaching was contradicted. And I've got to own that."

"I want to apologize to you," he continued. "Because I need to preach and practice. Not just preach and I have done my best to do that. We are all human. We all fall short sometimes. We've been out three times, I know it's been three times because I remember all of those dinners very vividly, since February. Twice with my wife outdoors and this one occasion with a larger group. There were just a few extra people there than the spirit of what I am promoting."

"So if you are going to minimize mixing, you got to own up to that. So I just want folks to know that. Paid for our dinner... Shouldn't have been there," he added. "I should have turned back around...Just know this has not been a practice I have indulged in the past. I take it very seriously...So when I say minimize mixing I mean it, but again COVID fatigue is exhausting and I'm empathic beyond words. I'm not here to browbeat anybody."

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