Fact check: Did Atlanta’s mayor hug and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Joe Biden without a mask

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Claim: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is seen in a viral video singing “Happy Birthday” to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden without a mask and without socially distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, in violation of recommendations and local restrictions.

Verdict: False — but Bottoms herself appears to have generated the controversy.

The Atlanta mayor posted the video on Friday, which was Biden’s birthday (he turned 78).

“Wishing our President-Elect @joebiden  a VERY Happy Birthday from the great Blue state of Joe’gia!” Bottoms wrote.

Social media users quickly picked up on it as an alleged example of blatant hypocrisy by Democratic officials and political leaders who are requiring Americans to socially distance, wear masks, and avoid large gatherings during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Bottoms herself tweeted a short time later that the celebration was from November 2019 — “pre-COVID.”

“Pre-Covid!  This was in the @TPStudios White House following the @DNC @msnbc debate on 11/20/19,” she wrote.

While some users expressed skepticism of Bottoms’ explanation, other users pointed out that Biden was home in Wilmington, Del. on Friday, where he met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

People were quick to believe the video was from 2020 and who can blame them? Last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a “stay-at-home” order, effectively canceling Thanksgiving celebrations for city residents. But a few days earlier, she participated in a so-called “superspreader event” to celebrate Biden’s alleged election victory.

Lightfoot took to the streets with other revelers where she spoke, unmasked, to a tightly-gathered crowd via megaphone, according to a video posted online.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state public health officials also issued new coronavirus restrictions late last month in regards to all non-public gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving.

The restrictions limit where gatherings are permissible and for how long. They also included a mandate to wear a mask in between taking bites of food and sips of drinks.

They also addressed bathroom use.

“All gatherings must be held outside. Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Attendees to gatherings “could take away their face coverings briefly to eat or drink so long as they keep not less than 6 ft away from everybody outdoors… and put their face overlaying again on as quickly as they’re finished with the exercise,” the statement added.

Jon Dougherty

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