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San Francisco Runners Made to Mask While Their Mayor’s ‘Spirit’ Parties Maskless

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a rally against the death of George Floyd, in San Francisco, Calif., June 1, 2020. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Charlie aptly took San Francisco mayor London Breed to task for her mask-mandate hypocrisy. Caught maskless in a nightclub last Thursday without a mask on, Breed responded to critics who claimed she had violated the city’s own indoor-mask mandate for such settings by saying “we don’t need the fun police to come in and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing.” That would be defensible — if she were not, at the same time, continuing to enforce and promote San Francisco’s indoor-mask mandate for such settings. If this is how Breed feels, then there’s no reason to maintain such an order, and she should work to undo it.

Breed added that she was caught up in the “spirit” of her evening out and “wasn’t thinking about a mask.” Over this past weekend, several thousand other people in the city participated in an activity it’s also easy to get caught up in the spirit of (as I can personally attest): running. They had assembled for the San Francisco Marathon. But thanks to August regulations issued by the National Park Service, mask-wearing was mandated for large portions of the course:

Participants in four races must wear masks on some portions of the course, race officials announced in updates to the race’s health protocols over the last two weeks. Stretches of Sunday’s marathon, half marathon and 10K races, as well as all of Saturday’s 5K, are in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area run by the National Park Service, and the agency announced last month masks are required indoors and in “crowded outdoor spaces” on park property amid the COVID-19 delta variant‘s nationwide spread.

Runners who don’t wear masks could be fined by the National Park Service or face disqualification, race officials said. The National Park Service has said visitors who violate the mask requirement on its properties “may be subject to citations as appropriate.”

Julian Espinoza, Public Affairs Specialist with Golden Gate National Recreation Area, told KCBS Radio in an email that the event organizers are responsible for mask enforcement.

Kyle Meyers, Production Director for the San Francisco Marathon, told KCBS Radio’s

Eric Brooks runners won’t immediately be pulled from the course, but they could be disqualified if officials get word they weren’t wearing a mask.

Given that I learned about this only after the fact, it’s too late for me to complain about it constructively. But it’s worth noting for its absurdity nonetheless. I’m glad that the San Francisco Marathon actually happened, at least. Yet I cannot get past the ridiculousness of requiring masks for some portions of the marathon and the other races run on the same day. The idea that the outside world is somehow dangerous is one of the most unfortunate consequences of coronavirus, and also among the most dangerous in the long term. It has, among other things, given many people the idea that they are better off remaining indoors and secluded, increasing our detachment from the real world, and physically inactive, thereby contributing to our growing obesity epidemic.

The people who signed up for the San Francisco Marathon are obviously not among their number, and they are to be commended for that. But it remains absolute nonsense to inflict on them a precaution that simply does not make sense, and that is completely out of whack with everything we know about outdoor transmission of coronavirus (it is virtually impossible). I don’t blame the race organizers for complying with these silly rules; I blame the rules themselves, which both reflect and contribute to a collective neurosis that the unexposed human face simply cannot exist publicly anywhere ever again, and that one’s fellow human beings, even in a race setting, are not compatriots or even competitors but rather walking vectors of disease.

San Francisco’s own mayor selectively flouts this mindset, to which she has contributed and which she enforces in the law, when it benefits her own pleasure-seeking. Meanwhile, in the same city, thousands engage in organized strenuous physical activity with the pointless obstruction of a face mask. It is yet another example of the ongoing and nightmarish perversity of mask mandates as they exist in many places today.

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