Los Angeles hosts its first Super Bowl since 1993 on Sunday. Those were different times. The governor of California was a Republican, and L.A. elected a Republican mayor that year.
Today, California has had a Democrat governor for the past eleven years and a Democrat mayor for the past 20 years. The city is riddled with out-of-control crime and homelessness problems. It also remains under strict government-imposed COVID-19 mandates while the rest of the country has mostly returned to normal.
California still has in place a statewide mask mandate for indoor locations until Feb. 15. For the unvaccinated, it will continue indefinitely. It applies whether you live in downtown San Francisco or in the Mojave Desert. The County of Los Angeles requires that masks also be worn by all students in all schools of all ages, even when outside, and for those attending an outdoor event of over 5,000 people. (Yes, the county is tougher on children than adults; there is no mask requirement for adults while outside on a work campus.)
The City of Los Angeles layers over the state and county mandates a vaccine mandate. To enter virtually any retail space, you must show proof that you are vaccinated. And, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a vaccine mandate for all public-school children to take effect in the fall.
So, for the Super Bowl, all attendees will have to show proof of vaccination to enter and also wear a mask at all times during the game except when actively eating or drinking, i.e., lower mask, insert food/drink, raise mask. And we are not talking about any mask. All attendees will be handed an N95 mask. Those are the large masks that fit snuggly over the face with a metal bar to grip the nose and bands which go around the entire head, not just the ears. They are not easy to push just below the nose as mask cheaters (like me) are prone to do. Put simply, they are no fun to wear for extended periods.
Will people wear them? If the NFL conference championship game held in the same stadium recently is any indication, the answer is no. Television cameras showed the vast majority not wearing a mask. The reason is obvious. Masks are not comfortable. And, people attending the game chose to accept the risk of getting COVID, as evidenced by the fact that they are there. (Interestingly, the players are not required to wear masks. Compare this to L.A.’s children who are required to wear masks even when playing both indoor and outdoor sports.)
Infamously, among those shown on camera not wearing a mask were the architects of the mandates themselves: Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Obviously, they also found the masks to be too uncomfortable to wear for three hours and made an individual choice to accept the risk of getting COVID-19.
I would not blame them except for the fact that they are the guys who put the mandates in place! They think that children should wear masks all day long, yet they find it too burdensome for themselves. To give you an idea how difficult it is, look at Newsom. He faced a recall election after being caught at a small dinner at an out of the way restaurant unmasked. Yet even he could not keep his mask on despite being in front of 70,000 people and a television audience of millions! How can he expect our children to do it?
Newsom’s communications director tried to clean up his snafu, writing that the governor “continues to encourage all Californians to do their part to get through the pandemic and this latest surge, including wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.” Now, that is a policy I can get behind: “encourage.” But it is past time to end mandates which cannot even be followed by those who put them in place.