California Gov. Gavin Newsom pulled his kids out of summer camp after a photo showed his son not wearing a mask inside

Gavin Newsom, his children, and wife.
Gavin Newsom with his children and wife in 2018.

  • California’s governor said he pulled his kids out of a summer camp over its mask policies.
  • Gov. Newsom’s office said it missed an email that said the camp wouldn’t enforce mask guidance.
  • He was criticized after his son was photographed not wearing a mask at the camp.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California’s governor pulled his kids out of a summer camp after facing criticism over a photo of his son inside at the camp without a face mask on, at odds with the state’s coronavirus guidance.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s spokeswoman, Erin Mellon, said his team missed an email from the camp that two of his children – ages 10 and 11 – attended, saying the camp would not be enforcing guidance to wear masks, The Sacramento Bee reported.

A photo of his son not wearing a mask while indoors at the camp circulated online, and was met with outrage from people who oppose the state’s guidance.

California asks that people, even those who are fully vaccinated and children, to wear masks indoors in youth settings like summer camps.

The children attended the camp for one day, Mellon said.

Mellon said in the statement: “The Newsoms were concerned to see unvaccinated children unmasked indoors at a camp their children began attending yesterday.”

“The family reviewed communication from the camp and realized that an email was missed saying the camp would not enforce masking guidance. Their kids will no longer be attending this camp.”

This isn’t the first time that Newsom has faced backlash for perceived hypocrisy in his handling of the pandemic. In November, Newsom and his wife were photographed attending a large dinner at an upscale Napa Valley restaurant a week before the governor warned Californians to “limit interactions to their immediate household.”

Newson is currently facing a recall election in September, which has been described as a response to Newsom’s coronavirus leadership.

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The CDC now recommends masks for vaccinated people – but at least 6 major cities had already told residents to mask up again

la mask requirement
Lilian Zhu, 17, works at her laptop inside Charlie’s Coffee House in South Pasadena, California, on July 18, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday that vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings – a change from the previous guidelines, which suggested vaccinated people didn’t need masks. The new rules apply to areas of the country with high rates of coronavirus transmission, as well as K-12 schools, the CDC said.

Some vaccinated Americans, though, have already been told to mask up again.

Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant, at least six cities have issued new mask guidance in the last few weeks. Los Angeles and St. Louis have instated official mask mandates for all residents, while New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle have recommended masks.

Some cities have also reissued mask mandates for specific indoor settings. Clark County, Nevada – which includes Las Vegas – began requiring masks in court facilities last week. Public schools in Atlanta, Chicago, and New York City will require students and staff to wear masks this school year, regardless of their vaccination status. And in Hawaii, the government is waiting until more residents are vaccinated before lifting its indoor mask mandate.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Fox News that these local mask requirements are “quite understandable” given Delta’s prevalence in the US.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday that vaccinated people infected with Delta may be contagious and spread the virus to others. Data on previous variants indicated that vaccinated people were less likely to transmit the virus than unvaccinated people.

At least 6 cities have issued new mask guidance

New Orleans mask
An employee at Turtle Bay, a bar in the French Quarter, wears a mask as he takes the names and contact information of people walking in on May 16, 2020.

The San Francisco Bay Area was among the first places to buck the no-mask trend in July. Several Bay Area counties, including San Francisco County, began recommending masks for all people – vaccinated or not – in indoor spaces like theaters, grocery stores, and retail stores starting July 16. In nearby San Mateo County, masks are now required, even for fully vaccinated people, inside county offices, clinics, and public facilities.

Los Angeles County also reinstated its indoor mask mandate on July 18 following a sharp uptick in cases. Average daily cases more than doubled there in the first two weeks of July, then tripled by the third week.

In New Orleans, health officials issued a “mask advisory” instead of a mandate. The city’s “inadequate vaccination rate” was part of the reason for that rule, they said. New Orleans has the second-highest vaccination rate in Louisiana – around 57% of residents have received at least one dose – but cases have still increased 10-fold there since the start of July.

two students sitting at their desks, wearing masks
Students wearing masks listen to their teacher during third grade summer school in Los Angeles, June 23, 2021.

On Thursday, Philadelphia also “strongly recommended” that all residents wear masks inside public places. James Garrow, a spokesperson for the city’s health department, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that officials were concerned about an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations among the city’s unvaccinated children.

King County, Washington, which includes Seattle, followed suit with a similar recommendation on Friday. Health officials now advise that all residents ages 5 and up wear masks in indoor public settings – despite the fact that King County is one of the most vaccinated counties in the US. (Around 72% of residents have received at least one dose.)

“This extra layer of protection will help us all stay safer, including those who are unvaccinated, such as the 300,000 children in King County who aren’t able to get vaccinated yet, and the many thousands of people who have immune systems that are weakened or suppressed,” the county said in a statement.

St. Louis County, Missouri, took a firmer stance on Monday by requiring vaccinated people ages 5 and older wear masks on public transportation and in all indoor public spaces. The mandate doesn’t apply to people eating or drinking in restaurants or bars, though.

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Tension and violence onboard airplanes is soaring, but the CDC still wants flyers to wear masks because the unvaccinated are ‘extremely vulnerable’

Delta Air Lines New JFK Airport Experience
Travelers have been required to wear masks on airplanes for more than one year.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is against lifting the mask mandate on airplanes.
  • The Transportation Security Administration’s current mask mandate expires on September 13 but may be extended.
  • Thousands of travelers have been banned from airlines for not wearing masks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Wearing masks onboard airplanes is here to stay.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come out against lifting the federal mask mandate that requires travelers to don face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when using transportation modes including air, rail, and bus.

“The truth is that the unvaccinated portion that’s out there is extremely vulnerable,” Marty Cetron, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of global migration and quarantine, told Reuters on Thursday.

President Joe Biden first directed agencies to create mask mandates for transportation in January and CDC soon followed up with an order that codified mask mandates on commercial and public transportation into federal law.

The Transportation Security Administration, tasked with protecting the nation’s transportation networks, complemented CDC’s order with its own mandate that covers airports and commercial aircraft, as well as surface transportation networks. Before then, mask mandates were solely a matter of airline policy, and the first airline to require masks for passengers, JetBlue Airways, didn’t do so until late April.

TSA’s mandate took effect on February 2 and has already been extended past its original expiration date of May 11. September 13 is the new scheduled end date but the order can be extended again if the federal government deems it necessary, and Cetron’s comments hint that it might be.

“I get we’re all just over this emotionally but I do think we will succeed together if we realize the virus is the enemy and it’s not your fellow citizen or the person sitting next to you on a plane or a piece of cloth that you have to wear over your face,” Cetron told Reuters, adding that federal agencies are expected to follow CDC’s lead on this issue.

Read More: Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population – and airline CEOs say it’s proof that flying is safe

“It is currently unknown as to whether the mask mandate will be extended or kept in place,” Lisa Farbstein, TSA’s spokesperson, told Insider. “What we do know is that the mandate is currently in place until September 13. That gets us through the traditional summer travel season, just past the Labor Day holiday.”

New variants of the coronavirus may encourage the CDC to keep the order in place past September 13. Dominant in the US is now the delta variant that is highly transmissible and proven to infect vaccinated individuals, though data suggests symptoms are mild among those vaccinated.

CDC is forecasting cases to rise in the next four weeks with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, expecting a delta variant peak in late September, after the September 13 end date of TSA’s current mask policy.

Defiance to the mask mandate has heightened tensions onboard commercial flights as flight crews have been enforcing the policy. Passengers have hurled verbal abuse at flight attendants and interactions have even turned violent, as Insider’s Allana Akhtar reported.

“I’m sure there are some executives and many employees who personally wish the mask mandate would end today, were it not for the threat of the delta variant of the virus, simply to reduce the tensions that exist on aircraft,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider.

Thousands of flyers have also been banned by individual airlines for not abiding by mask mandates.

More travelers are flying this summer more than at any point during the pandemic. US airports are regularly seeing more than two million daily passengers, according to TSA statistics.

Do you have a story to share about aviation or mask-related incidents on airplanes chain? Email this reporter at

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Airlines and regulators turn to eye-poking flight attendants and eye-popping fines amid sharp rise in unruly passenger incidents

As a row of woman look on, a female trainer demonstrates how she gets out of the restraints of someone lying beneath her and holding her down. l
Frontier Airlines flight attendants study self-defense at a training in Denver in 2007.

  • Airlines and federal regulators are scrambling to contain a sudden uptick in unruly passengers on planes.
  • The FAA has received 3,420 “unruly passenger” reports in 2021, and 3,000 weapons have been seized at airports.
  • Under zero-tolerance policy, fines are larger than ever, and some are pushing for federal prosecutions for in-flight assaults.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In undisclosed locations near airports around the country this month, flight attendants are receiving training in aggressive self defense moves that are specially designed for close-quarters.

Flight attendants learn the double-ear slap, the eye-poke, and the groin-kick. They learn tricks to swiftly disarm passengers with sharp weapons, and how to use items readily available aboard a plane for defense.

The moves are designed to de-escalate and quickly subdue passengers because in the words of former trainer Scott Armstrong, “you don’t want to get into a long, drawn-out fight.”

This is, as they say, not a drill. Just last week, the training was famously put to good use, when a female passenger on an American Airlines flight to North Carolina attacked and bit several flight attendants and tried to open the plane’s door mid-flight.

Resourceful flight attendants grabbed a roll of duct-tape, and the woman arrived at her destination, subdued and bound tightly to her chair. It might not have been standard protocol but it was effective and American Airlines later applauded its crew.

It’s not just your imagination; there really has been an extraordinary amount of mayhem in the skies recently.

Last month, an off-duty attendant on a Delta flight to Los Angeles from Atlanta overpowered flight attendants and took charge of the PA system. Passengers had to step in to help subdue him.

A video of a woman attacking a Southwest flight attendant and knocking out two of her teeth before another passenger stepped in to help recently went viral.

The annual flight attendant training, which the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) started in 2004 and paused due to Covid19, resumes at a time of record-breaking reports of delays due to passenger misbehavior on commercial flights.

Three flight attendants restrain fellow flight attendants in a training drill.
A Korean Air flight crew demonstrates a mock anti-terrorist drill ahead of the 2002 World Cup.

During a year when many travelers stayed home due to Covid-19, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says it has received 3,420 reports of “unruly passenger” incidents on planes as of July 13. More than three quarters of those incidents have been related to passengers refusing to abide by the federal mask mandate.

With five months left in the year, the average number of reports has already been surpassed roughly threefold, and the FAA has set up a new special task force to investigate.

There are also more firearms being discovered during routine x-ray screenings of carry-on luggage, according to the TSA. As of mid-July, roughly 3,000 weapons have been intercepted so far in 2021, and 85% of them were loaded, the TSA told Insider in an email.

Over the 4th of July weekend, 70 guns were discovered at airport checkpoints. This month, six firearms were seized at airports in Oregon over a single 10-day period, an “astounding” number, according to the TSA. Nationally, the TSA says we are on-trend to double the yearly average for weapons seizures.

Flight attendants are on the front lines, and say the self-defense training is sorely needed.

Sarah Nelson, the president of the International Association for Flight Attendants (AFA), believes the training should be made mandatory. In a town hall posted on YouTube, she said that flight attendants have become “literal punching bags” for the public and that many had left their jobs.

“This should send a message to the public that these events are serious and flight attendants are there to ensure the safety and security of everyone in the plane,” Nelson told the press.

Nelson’s group says it received over 5,000 responses to its fact-finding survey on unruly passengers. According to an AFA spokesperson, more flight attendants than ever have been requesting support and advice from the union.

What can be done?

And yet, in the face of all of this, the options that are available to airlines are limited.

There are not necessarily enough federal air marshals – officials who dress in civilian clothes and are tasked with protecting against the most extreme in-flight scenarios – to be aboard every flight, and their responsibilities have never covered keeping the peace for fellow travelers. For security reasons, the TSA does not disclose the number of federal air marshals or discuss their specific duties or routes.

Regulations say that cabin safety is the responsibility of flight attendants.

A flight attendants with a cart carrying cups and juice boxes smiles at an unseen passenger
An American Airlines flight attendant serves drinks to passengers.

Meanwhile, unruly behavior in the skies has traditionally been met with warnings and relatively small federal fines, as well as bans imposed by individual airlines. When an arrest is made, it is generally by state law enforcement.

Nick Calio, the CEO of Airlines for America, an aviation coalition, wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland in May to urge swift action against unruly passengers, and proposed that the FAA refer the most severe cases to the Justice Department for federal criminal prosecution.

Looking for new ways to shame travelers into exhibiting better behavior, the FAA has broken with its usual protocol and began publishing details about the incidents. The FAA has previously kept this information private but, a spokesperson explained, figured the details might make people think twice before acting out on a plane.

Also, the FAA has chosen to get creative.

The agency has tweeted jocular memes, including one featuring Brad Pitt as part of a public awareness campaign.

In another campaign launched in early July, adorable kids starred in a public service announcement that lampooned poorly-behaved adults. A wise, winsome toddler cautions that grown-ups can go to jail if they keep “doing that stuff.”

“They should know better if they’re, like, adults,” another child says – quite reasonably – while swaying past the screen perched in a swing.

A woman throws a punch at a second woman, who blocks it, during a training.
An Air Tran Airlines flight attendant learns how to deal with a knife-wielding attacker in a self-defense course at the company headquarters in Atlanta, Ga.

Since January, the FAA has had in place a zero-tolerance policy, which did away with warnings and made it possible for fines – which accused passengers can contest in court – to be larger than ever.

When FAA’s chief administrator Steve Dickson announced the policy in January he cited the events of Jan. 6, when supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, but more recently incidents have been tied to the mask mandate. Passengers deciding to bring alcohol aboard flights was another common thread to the incidents.

That policy will be reviewed in September, when the mask mandate is set to expire, and there is some discussion of making it permanent.

As a result, in-flight misbehavior has become increasingly expensive. Under zero-tolerance, the FAA has handed down a whopping $682,000 in fines year-to-date against 84 passengers, many over $10,000.

The steepest fine proposed so far this year was $52,500 for a Delta Airlines passenger who, last December, tried to open the cockpit door, assaulted a flight attendant, and was subdued and cuffed with the help of passengers. The woman, who was flying from Honolulu to Seattle, then freed herself of the cuffs to assault the flight attendant a second time, and was met by law enforcement upon arrival.

Another fine of $21,500 went to a Frontier Airlines passenger who argued about the mask policy, drank alcohol not served by the airline, and argued with a nearby passenger before striking the passenger in the head.

And a woman in Indianapolis was fined $18,500 because she argued with the captain of the plane, and punched a nearby passenger in the back of the head, while the passenger was holding an infant.

Because of the enormous caseload, the task force has not yet processed fines for the incident involving the flight attendant who lost teeth.

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Israelis describe what it’s like when your country vaccinates its way out of the pandemic – only for a Delta variant outbreak to fuel rising cases

Iraeli woman May Bejach in a scarf and jacket on a street in Tel Aviv
May Bejach, a 28-year-old university student in Tel Aviv.

  • Israel lifted all COVID restrictions at the start of June after its world-leading vaccination drive.
  • A Delta variant outbreak saw authorities swiftly reinstate mask wearing and tighten travel rules.
  • Insider spoke to three Israelis about how the setback feels, so close to the pandemic’s end.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After the most successful COVID vaccination programme in the world, Israel lifted social distancing and mask requirements at the start of June.

Then a low – but rising – number of cases, fueled by the arrival of the Delta variant, prompted the government to bring back masks in indoor spaces, announce a drive to vaccinate kids, and impose mass testing for airport arrivals.

Authorities are determined to avoid another spike. There are currently just 33 serious cases in Israel and a seven-day average of 321 new daily cases, compared with around 8,600 in January in the early stages of its vaccine drive.

Teenager in Israel receiving vaccine injection
An Israeli girl receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from the Magen David Adom during a campaign by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality to encourage the vaccination of teenagers, on July 5, 2021.

But 13,000 students and teachers are currently in quarantine and the interior minister has threatened to shut down Ben Gurion Airport if cases continue to increase.

The rising case load is concerning for the country that was first to vaccinate its way out of the pandemic using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

One study released this week showed this vaccine is only 64% effective against transmission of the Delta variant but is 93% effective at preventing hospitalization.

Miriam Britz-Kohn, a 49-year-old mother-of-three, lives in Binyamina in the north of the country, where the Delta variant was first observed in Israel around June 20.

Her son’s school informed her that children in one year group had tested positive, and mobile testing centers were quickly sent to monitor any spread. “Binyamina is a small place, so it had a big impact in the town,” she said.

“I felt we’d beaten Corona. We felt great about it, but then it affected our neighbourhood and that was a wakeup call. The reality is it’ll go up and down and be something that’s impossible to get rid of completely, at least in the near future.”

Some of her neighbors, who were previously staying home to avoid infection before they were vaccinated, have stopped sending their children to school, afraid of them bringing home a more transmissible variant of COVID.

Israel was already vaccinating children aged 12 to 15, and rising case numbers have encouraged more parents to vaccinate theirs.

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz stand wearing masks in a hospital outside Tel Aviv
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (2nd on the right) listens as Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (center) speaks during a visit to a Maccabi healthcare maintenance organisation (HMO) outlet offering COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations in Holon near Tel Aviv on June 29, 29, 2021. Bennett announced a drive to vaccinate children that day.

Britz-Kohn said that many people were now vaccinating their teenagers to avoid the entire family having to isolate if they came into contact with someone who tested positive.

Her middle child, aged 13, has not yet been vaccinated but Britz-Kohn said he already had COVID and so should have antibodies.

She said she had “mixed feelings” about getting him vaccinated as his age makes him less likely to develop severe symptoms with coronavirus. Now she plans to get him vaccinated in light of the rising case numbers.

Shlomit Levy, a senior nurse working in Tel Hashomer Hospital, never stopped wearing her mask at work and in stores, even when the mandate was lifted for three weeks.

“Everybody should wear one,” she said. “Because if we all do, we can keep transmission low but let life carry on.”

Levy told Insider she felt masks kept her and many of her colleagues safe for the year before they were vaccinated. She works in a cancer unit, and said that, while some colleagues caught COVID, they most likely caught it outside the hospital.

Now she’s part of a study group which is tested regularly for antibodies, to see how long the vaccine’s protection lasts. She worries that as her antibody levels decrease, she could catch the new variant.

“I wear a N95 mask, so it gives me some protection as well as helping stop the spread. I’m not only afraid for myself, but also for my patients. Some of them couldn’t be vaccinated because of their cancer treatments.”

May Bejach, 28, a university student in Tel Aviv where she was born and raised, dreads another lockdown. She found it “very difficult” when most of her teaching went online as COVID first hit.

“The city that never sleeps was asleep for a year. Everything was closed and the streets were dead. It was awful,” she told Insider.

“I was so pleased when things went back to normal,” she said, adding she didn’t expect another full lockdown as cases were still low and, with 65.2% of people fully vaccinated, few are falling seriously ill.

She doesn’t know how she’d deal with another lockdown. “We got vaccinated early on, which means we are better prepared now for what’s happening. We need to be careful with masks and hope that the numbers stay low so we don’t need to disrupt our lives again.”

Bejach is still planning a trip to Italy that she had to cancel during the first lockdown. She said, with COVID looming again, increased testing at the airport and new rules could be “just something we’ll have to get used to.”

She is due to fly there on August 22. “The new restrictions have me thinking that it will continue getting worse and that they might cancel us again.”

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Ted Cruz joins forces with other GOP lawmakers to try and end the mask mandates for vaccinated travelers, ahead of Independence Day

Senator Ted Cruz without a mask on an escalator in the US Capitol
Sen. Ted Cruz reflects on a Capitol Hill escalator.

  • A group of GOP senators on Friday asked the CDC to end federal mask requirements for travelers.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz said the guidelines were an “outdated and unnecessary mandate.”
  • The group introduced a three-page bill in the Senate on Thursday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A group of Republican senators led by Ted Cruz on Friday announced a bill seeking an end to federal mask mandates for vaccinated travelers on planes, trains, and other public transport.

Mask requirements from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have outlasted their purpose, the lawmakers said.

The CDC in February recommended that travellers stayed home until they were fully vaccinated, but still required everyone to wear a mask while on public transport. The same was true for the TSA, which extended its requirement until September. Airlines have their own requirements, too.

“Americans should be able to travel to celebrate Independence Day with their friends and loved ones without having to follow an outdated and unnecessary mandate,” Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement accompanying the bill.

In addition to Cruz, the GOP effort involved Susan Collins, Jerry Moran, Roger Wicker, Cynthia Lummis, and Marsha Blackburn. It came as states across the country continued loosening restrictions on daily life.

TSA mask mandates have led to altercations in airports and on flights, where cabin crews have had to deal with unruly passengers. Flight attendants have described “unprecedented” violence. The TSA in July will restart its self-defense training for flight crews.

Travelers wearing masks line up at an airport in Colorado.
Masked travelers at Denver International Airport.

A frequent flier last week sued seven airlines, saying vaccinated travelers should be able to fly without masks.

The resolution, introduced in the Senate on Thursday, said the CDC could incentivize more people to get vaccines by dropping the mask requirement.

The three-page text said that getting rid of the mask mandate “would be instrumental in helping the economic recovery of the United States by boosting travel and benefitting the travel and tourism industries without sacrificing public health.”

In late May, the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, said the mask requirement on public transit was a “matter of safety, but it’s also a matter of respect” for flight crews.

Collins in a statement said she’d spoken with flight attendants about the mandate. The senator said she’d heard about “horrendous and unthinkable violence” on recent flights.

If vaccinated people on the ground no longer need masks indoors, then fliers don’t need them either, Collins said.

“It makes no sense that someone can go to a restaurant without wearing a mask, but they cannot fly on an airplane without one, even though it has a far better ventilation system,” she said.

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Brazil’s president received a fine in Sao Paulo for violating local coronavirus mask restrictions

Jair Bolsonaro
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro adjusts his protective face mask at a press statement during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Brasilia, Brazil, March 20, 2020. Picture taken March 20, 2020.

  • Brazil’s president was fined in his own country for violating local mask mandates, the AP reported.
  • Jair Bolsonaro must pay $110 for participating in a motorcycle rally in Sao Paulo without a mask.
  • Brazil, with crematoriums continuing to be overwhelmed, has for months struggled to stave off the coronavirus.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Saturday received a $110 fine after failing to wear a mask in Sao Paulo, the Associated Press reported.

Bolsonaro had been riding his motorcycle through the streets of Sao Paulo, where local mask ordinances remain in place. Sao Paulo has required that residents wear masks in public spaces since May 2020.

He and about 12,000 other motorcycle enthusiasts were cheering while maskless, the AP reported. While riding his bike, Bolsonaro shouted at Sao Paulo residents that masks were unnecessary if they were fully vaccinated.

“Whoever is against this proposal is because they don’t believe in science, because if they are vaccinated, there is no way the virus can be transmitted,” Bolsonaro said standing on top of a car.

This is at least the second time Bolsonaro received a fine for violating local mask ordinances. In May, officials in Maranhao fined him for going maskless at a rally.

He and local Brazilian politicians have for months butted heads over the types of restrictions to impose to protect against and stave off the coronavirus in the country.

With more than 486,000 fatalities, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Brazil has one of the world’s highest COVID-19 death rates. The death rates have been so high that for months crematoriums have struggled to keep up.

New variants of the virus have popped up in different parts of Brazil. Yet Bolsonaro has previously said he would not get vaccinated against the coronavirus. He’s also spouted false information about COVID-19 vaccinations that critics have characterized as fearmongering and potentially dangerous rhetoric.

And while individuals who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are far less likely to get it then individuals who aren’t, health officials have for months insisted that masks should still be worn. Vaccines can prevent people from getting sick but not necessarily from being infected.

Less than 12% of the Brazilian population has so far been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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I visited one of the most iconic neighborhood bars in NYC after it reopened – here’s what it was like

Michelle Gross Photo 4   Patrons are no longer allowed to sit at the bar at Bemelmans as a reuslt of Covid
The bar at Bemelmans in New York City.

  • Michelle Gross is a freelance writer based in New York.
  • Recently, she spent a Friday night out at Bemelmans, the iconic bar at The Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side.
  • Although reopened at only 50% capacity, Gross says the bar was bustling with music and a new drinks menu.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In a city like New York, there’s no shortage of neighborhood bars. And while everyone has their favorite, for me, Bemelman’s Bar will always be emblematic of the quintessential New York City experience.

I recently spent a Friday night in late May at the iconic bar at The Carlyle, the Upper East Side hotel of choice for visiting celebrities and fashionable New Yorkers. Unlike most Friday nights over the past 14 months spent at home in my pajamas with my partner and two pugs, it’s now a post-COVID New York City, where donning my signature white tuxedo and going out for drinks and a little live music on the town felt novel and – dare I say? – normal.

As much a New York City icon as it is a cultural touchstone, Bemelmans and the adjoining CafĂ© Carlyle have hosted everyone from John F. Kennedy and Judy Collins to Frank Sinatra over the years. There’s no place quite like it anywhere on earth, and there’s certainly no place that feels as quintessentially New York.

Currently operating at a 50% capacity, this is the first-time Bemelmans has enforced a strict reservation-only policy.

“We’ve never had to enforce reservations like this in the past, and for now this is the simplest way to control the crowd,” Bemelmans’ new bar manager Dimitrios Michalopoulos told me that evening. “It’s been quite an adjustment, but this is the story for now.”

As a friend and I arrived at the Carlyle for our reservation, I noticed a lot has changed since my last visit in pre-pandemic times.

Before you can even enter Bemelmans, or the adjoining Topkapi Palace inspired tea room called The Gallery, you are greeted in The Carlyle’s foyer by a team of what looks like secret service agents in tuxedos, all of whom are equipped with earpieces to communicate with one another.

Michelle Gross Bemelmans
The foyer and waiting area before entering Bemelmans.

At check-in here, one member for each reservation is required to fill out a digital contact tracing form on an iPad. Once you make it past the check-in process, you’re led to your table.

Each reservation at Bemelmans has a 90-minute time limit, and there’s also a $15 per-person cover charge that’s applied to your bar tab. At present, masks are mandated when you go to and from your table; however, once inside, we quickly notice that the policy is loosely enforced.

“Our aim is to lead by example here,” Michalopoulos said, pointing out that all Bemelmans associates were wearing masks despite being vaccinated. “Our priority is to our guests and that means we’ll keep our masks on for now.”

All of the staff was masked up the entire time I was there, from the check in agents at the front to the servers and people behind the bar. Another big change I noticed is that people are no longer allowed to sit at the bar.

When we arrived at our table, we found a barcode menu waiting for us.

Michelle Gross 5   Barcodes are now used to order all food and drinks at Bemelmans making it a far more efficient process
Barcodes are now used to order all food and drinks at Bemelmans.

These barcodes seem ubiquitous now, however it felt jarring to see one in an environment as classical as Bemelmans.

With the help of Michalopoulos, the bar now features an entirely new menu that includes a signature cocktail list that pays homage to the guests, artists, and musicians who helped put this charming neighborhood bar on the map.

According to Michalopoulos, Bemelmans is largely known for its gin drinks and martinis. But one standout cocktail I tried was the JFK Daiquiri, a rum based drink inspired by one of the president’s favorite cocktails.

Bemelmans has a large selection of signature martinis, cocktails, mocktails, beers, and wine.

“Our clientele has been coming here for our martini’s for almost 75 years,” Michalopoulos said.

Michalopoulos said he spent the better part of a month researching the history and stories for each and every person the cocktails on Bemelmans Specialty Cocktail list are named after.

Photo 6   The author Michelle Gross and her friend sip martinis at Bemelmans
Gross and a friend enjoying martinis at Bemelmans.

Another standout drink was The Gillespie, which is made with Hudson Manhattan Rye, lime juice, rosemary ginger syrup, ginger beer, and egg white. It was named for a long time musician and entertainer at Bemelmans Bar, Chris Gillespie, who loved ginger, Michalopoulos told me.

“It was a lot of fun to honor the legacy of the people who used to come here and made this place so special,” Michalopoulos told me. “Their legacy lives on, and I know Bemelmans’ legacy will continue to live on long after, too.”

The iconic piano serves as a major focal point of the bar’s decor.

Michelle Gross 7: Music has always been at the center of a night out at Bemelmans and the piano serves as a major focal point of this iconic locale.
The piano at Bemelmans.

As I glanced around the room, and the sounds of people talking and live music on the piano played throughout our visit, I almost forgot what it was like in the before times at 100% occupancy.

Things have changed since my last visit to Bemelmans, but the magic that can be found in a night out here will always stay the same.

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As mask mandates are lifted some states are grappling with longstanding mask bans that were aimed at the Ku Klux Klan

Ku Klux Klan
A member of the Ku Klux Klan salutes during American Nazi Party rally at Valley Forge National Park September 25, 2004 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

  • Before COVID-19, 18 states had anti-mask laws, most of which were adopted in response to the KKK.
  • Several states repealed or waived their bans at the start of the pandemic.
  • As mask mandates expire, some states are weighing how to address the longstanding laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As coronavirus mask mandates are lifting, some states are weighing how to address longstanding mask bans, many of which were passed in response to the Ku Klux Klan, The New York Times reported.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a dozen states had laws banning masks that concealed the wearer’s identity, many enacted primarily as a way to deter the KKK, a white supremacist hate group. Now that nixing mask mandates will reinstate those laws, some states are trying to figure out how to allow people to continue wearing masks if they want to for health reasons.

At least 18 states had anti-mask laws that dated prior to the pandemic as of November 2020, according to the California Law Review.

Georgia waived its anti-mask law at the beginning of the pandemic to allow for masks in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported.

New York, which had the oldest anti-mask law dating back to 1845, repealed their law in May 2020.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s Office said in April 2020 that the state’s 71-year-old anti-mask law would not be applied to those covering their nose and mouth due to the pandemic, reported.

However, states that paused or waived enforcement of masks bans for the pandemic are still working for ways to ensure they can’t be enforced as the public health crisis wanes.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam is looking at ways to make sure the state’s mask ban from 1950, which included an exemption for a public health emergency, doesn’t prevent people from wearing masks, The Times reported. Virginia’s state-of-emergency declaration expires at the end of June, at which time the mask ban will be reinstated.

Rob Kahn, a law professor at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis, told The Times it may be difficult for states to repeal the mandates now that mask-wearing has become so politicized.

“I definitely think there will continue to be a difference of opinion, a divergence over masks,” Mr. Kahn said. “But hopefully the conflicts that come up will be resolved peacefully.”

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Buttigieg defends mask mandates on public transportation as a matter of ‘safety’ and ‘respect’

Pete Buttigieg
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

  • Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday described public transit mask mandates as a “matter of respect.”
  • There has been an increase in the number of disturbances on airplanes in recent weeks.
  • Buttigieg asked for people to think about what transit workers “have been doing to keep you safe.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday backed the mask mandates still in effect on airplanes and public transit as a “matter of respect,” in the wake of recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggest that fully vaccinated travelers can forgo face coverings in many public spaces.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” host Martha Raddatz pressed Buttigieg about the continued need for mask regulations on public transit, despite many fully vaccinated Americans dining out and returning to their fitness routines at gyms without face coverings.

“Well, some of the differences have to do with the physical space, some of them have to do with it being a workplace where in some of these transit and travel situations, people don’t have a choice,” he said. “It’s a matter of safety, but it’s also a matter of respect.”

Raddatz also asked Buttigieg about the increase in violent disturbances and verbal assaults on airplanes, which have prompted some airlines to temporarily halt their alcoholic beverage offerings.

Read more: Exclusive: Secretary Pete takes viewers inside the DOT in the Biden administration’s weekly address as he sells the American Jobs Plan

Buttigieg asked for the public to be courteous toward transportation workers, many of whom worked through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Remember what they have been through, what they have been doing to keep you safe and make sure to show some appreciation and respect to everybody from a bus driver, operator to a flight attendant to a captain,” he said. “They have been on the frontlines of this pandemic. Their jobs have been in doubt. They are here for your safety.”

Buttigieg also noted that while 2021 Memorial Day weekend traffic is dramatically higher than last year, it would still take a while for the transportation system to ease back to pre-pandemic levels.

“As people return, we are coming out of one of the biggest shocks – perhaps the biggest shock – that the American transportation system has ever seen in terms of demands, schedules, all of these things changing and so the system is getting back into gear,” he said.

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