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COVID Purple Tier: San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Apologizes For Attending Thanksgiving Meal That Violated Gathering Rules

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo apologized Tuesday after attending a Thanksgiving meal in violation of state COVID-19 rules limiting the number of people and households at private gatherings.

In a written statement, Liccardo confirmed he and his wife were at his parents' home Thanksgiving for an outdoor dinner on their patio where eight people from five different households were in attendance. The mayor said those attending had their masks on while they were not eating and said other family members stayed home out of caution.

"I understand that the state regulations, issued on November 13th, limit the number of households at a private gathering to three. I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules, by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family," the mayor said.

Liccardo went on to say, "I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better."

The mayor's attendance at the dinner came after he tweeted before the Thanksgiving holiday, "Cases are spiking, in part because we're letting our guard (and masks) down with family & friends.  Let's cancel the big gatherings this year and focus on keeping each other safe."

Liccardo said he and his wife have dined "appropriately spaced" at his parents, along with his brother and sister-in-law, about once or twice a week for several months as a stable group of three households.

During the Thanksgiving gathering, Liccardo said his brother ate separately after their meal, and that one of his sisters, along with her son and daughter-in-law joined them.

"In summary, eight of us representing five households sat around three distanced tables in our own family groups on the back patio, and we wore masks when not eating," Liccardo said.

The mayor joins other elected leaders facing criticism after not following regulations meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Several hours after Liccardo apologized, reports surfaced of San Francisco Mayor London Breed dining at the famed French Laundry in Napa Valley with seven other people last month.

Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized after he was spotted at the French Laundry the day before Breed was there, attending a dinner which had more than 12 people in attendance.

"While our family followed the restaurant's health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner," Newsom said at the time.

In Southern California, Los Angeles County supervisor Sheila Kuehl was seen enjoying an outdoor meal at a restaurant just hours after voting to ban outdoor dining at restaurants because of coronavirus safety concerns. Kuehl's office told the Associated Press she ate at the restaurant on the very last day it was permissible.

Liccardo's apology comes as Santa Clara County has been dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases since before Thanksgiving. County health officer Dr. Sara Cody said care facilities across the county are "feeling the pinch" as 801 new cases were reported Monday and 80 percent of the available hospital beds were in use.

The county, which is in the Purple Tier, has enacted additional restrictions in recent days, including requiring travelers to quarantine for 14 days. The county has also banned all contact sports for three weeks, prompting the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Cardinal football team to play home games elsewhere.

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