According to The Hill, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) defended visiting the gym Monday morning just hours before ordering all commercial gyms to close their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and at a time when Americans are being told to stay home and avoid public spaces.
Mr. de Blasio, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was asked about attending the Brooklyn, YMCA public gym at a press conference and responded he knew he was entering a “very socially distanced situation.”
“There was almost no one there. I had heard that information prior,” he said. “I suspected that we were all going to be about to close them down, and this would be the last time to get some exercise.”
The mayor added that he didn’t get to exercise “whatsoever” during the weekend because he was “in this building.” De Blasio said that he will find a “new way” to exercise “going forward.”
“I did not think for a moment there was anything problematic because I knew the dynamics,” he said. “And again, I have to stay healthy so I can make the decisions for the people of this city.”
Several states and cities have shut down bars, movie theaters and other public facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak. Gyms across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were scheduled to close at 8 p.m.
His gym visit provoked criticism and ridicule from some reporters and city residents, including by former Fox News and NBC News personality Megyn Kelly.
Way to set the example, Mr. Mayor. https://t.co/colF20Wtwg
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) March 16, 2020
Everyone stay at home, shelter in place!
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) March 16, 2020
I can’t believe the De Blasio press shop is putting out a statement that basically is like: he wanted a chance to say goodbye to the YMCA part of his life.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) March 16, 2020
A spokesperson for the mayor defended Schumer’s visit in a statement, saying that the mayor wanted to “visit a place that keeps him grounded one last time.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that he is working around the clock to ensure the safety of New Yorkers. After today, gyms will close and he will no longer be visiting the YMCA for the foreseeable future,” Freddi Goldstein said in a statement.