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Noe Landini, the managing director of several popular restaurants in the nation’s capital, blasted the decision to lift vaccine and mask mandates throughout Washington, D.C., as “extremely political.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced last month that both the city-wide COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates would be lifted by the beginning of March. Last week, a few days ahead of President Biden’s State of the Union address, the White House and Capitol made a similar announcement.
Landini criticized the decisions in an interview with Fox News Digital at the “Covid Madness: Meet the D.C. Business Owners Fighting for Freedom” event at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
“You don’t need to be a doctor,” Landini said. “At the beginning of this, if you remember, it was all about following the science. And then somewhere along the lines, we stopped talking about science. Me being in a business that was without a doubt arbitrarily selected to be mitigated from the standpoint of whether or not we’re wearing a mask, or whether or not we’re showing [vaccine] cards.”
Landini said “it stings” that the city’s mandates on restaurants and bars forced staff at one of the establishments he manages, Junction Bakery & Bistro, to turn away diners who may have forgotten to bring their vaccine cards. He argued the situation seemed even more ridiculous when considering what he described as chaotic scenes in grocery stores.
“Meanwhile, you can go into Whole Foods, or any grocery store, nothing against Whole Foods … I’m glad I was able to go grocery shopping, but everybody’s touching everything … There’s police directing people in and out of the freaking grocery store,” he said.
Landini called the timing of the end to mask mandates “extremely political.”
“So, the timing of the masks I think is extremely political,” he continued. “I think it’s because it’s all part of the narrative … I think there was really a moment where whoever is driving the narrative, depending on whether it’s on the local leadership basis, regional or on the national level … I think you kind of have an, ‘Oh s—t moment’ when people are like, ‘OK, people are kind of over this.’ “
Mainstream outlets often pushed for COVID mandates and made Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbott out to be villains for keeping their states largely open and maskless. But many liberal pundits and outlets have now appeared to come around and side with those who, after two years, are exhausted by the restrictions and are ready to return to a pre-pandemic normal.
The Atlantic was one of several outlets to publish pieces questioning the universal masking in schools with a piece titled, “The Case Against Masks In Schools.” CBS’ Gayle King, meanwhile, told late night host Stephen Colbert that she was “so tired” of being afraid of COVID and that she’d rather run through Times Square “buck naked” than be locked down again.
That’s not the case for all progressive pundits, as personalities on CNN, MSNBC, and ABC have continued to push for what some critics call perpetual masking.
“I would wear a mask, and I might do that indefinitely,” “The View” co-host Joy Behar declared last month.
Biden declared in Tuesday’s State of the Union that, two years into the pandemic, it’s “time to get Americans back to work.” Landini took issue with the timing of that announcement as well.
“I think it’s trying to rally votes because it’s not a matter of right center, left center or the aisle…the majority of both sides are sick of it,” Landini said. “They’re done. They want to get on with their lives. And I think that the administration has recognized that and because more people than not are over it, that was the safe call to make. Definitely a political call.”
Eric Flannery, owner of the Big Board restaurant, said at Wednesday’s panel he had done some “soul-searching” when D.C.’s mandates were enforced and decided he was not going to comply with the city’s orders, saying he’s “not a government agent.” The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration stripped him of his liquor license for failing to enforce masks for its employees and checking patrons’ vaccine cards, and the restaurant was soon forced to close. Flannery said forcing his employees to wear masks would be relegating them to “second-class citizens.”
“We’re just not going to take part in any state-sponsored discrimination of any kind,” he said. “We just won’t. It’s just immoral.”
Flannery described the way he and his staff had been treated as “un-American,” saying he had lost his life savings in the process.
But he said he was hopeful his restaurant would one day soon reopen its doors and “the right thing is going to be done.”