News & Politics

Whitmer Caught Violating Her Own COVID-19 Rules; Still Refuses to Lift Them

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan COO Tricia Foster at the Landshark restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan. (Facebook)

On Saturday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) violated her own COVID-19 restrictions by dining indoors at a restaurant with more than five other people. Even though Whitmer has issued an apology, she has not lifted the regulation in question. Her “mistake” only highlights a disgusting trend of Democratic lawmakers treating COVID-19 restrictions as “rules for thee, not for me.”

According to a COVID-19 order the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued on May 15, no more than six people can sit together to dine indoors at a restaurant and different groups of people must be separated by at least six feet.

On Saturday, however, Whitmer sat with 12 other people around a pair of tables that had been pushed together at an East Lansing bar. A member of Whitmer’s party took a photo of the 13 people dining together and posted the picture on Facebook, Breitbart reported. The person who posted the image then removed the photo briefly, obscuring the faces of Whitmer and Michigan Chief Operating Officer Tricia Foster.

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“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been committed to following public health protocols,” Whitmer said in a statement to the Detroit News on Sunday.

“Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it. In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize,” the governor added.

Whitmer’s latest round of COVID-19 restrictions came as Michigan experienced a large outbreak in April. The state’s seven-day average case rate hit 538.1 per 100,000 residents that month, more than 3.5 times higher than the national average case rate of 146.3 per 100,000. The leaders of several hospitals around the state said that emergency rooms were flooded with patients and their beds were filling up. More than 4,000 Michiganders were hospitalized with COVID-19 at the time, with 833 of them in intensive care units and nearly 500 on ventilators.

The outbreak in Michigan remains worse than in most other parts of the country, although it appears to be abating.

Even in the context of the recent outbreak, Michigan’s restrictions seem unreasonable, especially since they apply to people who have received a full COVID-19 vaccination. Michigan should not prevent fully vaccinated people from gathering to dine together indoors. Thirteen fully vaccinated people dining together does not represent a vector for the spread of the coronavirus.

Yet if Whitmer’s administration is applying this bizarre rule to other Michiganders, it should also apply to Whitmer herself.

The governor’s blatant double standard echoes Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), who infamously attended an indoor dinner party on November 6, at the upscale restaurant The French Laundry with lobbyists and California Medical Association executives without a mask in sight, violating his own COVID-19 restrictions.

Yet this is not the first time Whitmer has appeared to bend the rules. Her husband called a dock company, requesting that the dockworkers make his boat ready for Memorial Day weekend in 2020 (despite a prohibition on motorized boating). On the call, he mentioned that he was the governor’s husband. Whitmer later tried to pass the whole thing off as a joke.

Earlier this year, Whitmer traveled to Florida to visit her elderly father — after advising Michiganders to think twice about travel and urging spring breakers and snowbirds returning from the Sunshine State to quarantine for at least a week amid the COVID-19 surge.

“Throughout the pandemic, Governor Whitmer has asked Michigan workers, families, and small businesses to make sacrifices she isn’t willing to make herself,” Michigan Freedom Fund Executive Director Tori Sachs said after Whitmer’s apology. “Whether it’s strong-arming a local marina to get her boat in the water ahead of her neighbors, traveling to Florida in secret while warning residents to avoid the same trip, or dining in public with a huge group just days after doubling down on her prohibition against parties, Michigan has had enough.”

“Over the last 15 months, Whitmer’s administration has issued violations, levied penalties, and publicly ridiculed restaurants, individuals and small businesses accused of violating Whitmer’s orders,” Sachs noted. “Michiganders deserve more than a hollow apology after a year of ‘rules for thee but not for me’ from their governor. We are calling on Whitmer to end her orders today, pardon every individual accused of a similar offense, rescind every violation issued by state and local officials, and refund every fine the state’s collected.”

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That seems unlikely. Michigan is set to loosen many restrictions on June 1, 2021, and to return to normal on July 1, 2021. Given Whitmer’s blasé attitude to her own restrictions, it seems those dates may be too far in the future.