San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo issued an apology on Tuesday regarding a recent family gathering he attended, which he now admits violated California health protocols. Details of the family gathering were first reported on Monday by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.
According to the state's latest guidance, only up to three different households are permitted to gather together at one time while outside.
"Eight of us representing five households sat around three distanced tables in our own family groups on the back patio," Liccardo said in the statement. "We wore masks when not eating."
Mayor Apologizes After NBC Bay Area Reported Details of His Family Gathering
Liccardo's apology comes in the wake of an NBC Bay Area investigation, which was the first to report details about the mayor's family gathering and the apparent skirting of health guidelines.
State Guidelines Only Allow Up to Three Households to Gather Outside
"A gathering of no more than three households is permitted in a public park or other outdoor space," according to the latest health guidance released by the California Department of Public Health on November 13.
Just one day prior to attending his family Thanksgiving celebration, Liccardo urged his more than 33,000 Twitter followers to cancel "big gatherings this year" and noted the importance of following safety protocols, even with friends and family.
"Cases are spiking," he wrote. "We're letting our guard (and masks) down with family and friends."
Mayor Offers Details About Family Dinner After His Office Initially Refused
Liccardo's statement represents a role reversal within his administration regarding its willingness to release details about the gathering.
Initially, when pressed by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit for details about the dinner, including the number of guests and households present, Liccardo's Chief of Staff described the gathering as a "private event" and declined to offer any further specifics.
Liccardo's statement also addressed the erroneous information initially provided to the Investigative Unit when it first inquired about the mayor's Thanksgiving plans. On Thanksgiving, a spokesperson for the mayor originally told NBC Bay Area Liccardo was spending the holiday at home, however, the mayor's office reached out the next day to correct that information, which Liccardo said was done at his request.
"I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them," Liccardo wrote. "I commit to do better."
Read Liccardo's Full Statement:
"A recent news report has raised questions about my family’s Thanksgiving dinner last week.
On Thanksgiving afternoon, my wife Jessica and I attended my parent’s house for an outdoor dinner on their backyard patio, along with my sister-in-law. The five of us, plus my brother, have dined together—appropriately spaced–once or twice a week for several months, as a stable group of three households. On this occasion, that brother joined us late and dined separately, after we completed our meal. One of my sisters also joined us for this Thanksgiving afternoon, along with her son and daughter-in-law.
In summary, eight of us representing five households sat around three distanced tables in our own family groups on the back patio, and we wore masks when not eating. I have a very large family—I am one of five children--and several of our family members who would have often joined us for Thanksgiving in the past—including sisters, nephews, nieces, and cousins—stayed home out of caution.
After I returned home, I saw an NBC reporter’s tweet that I dined “at home” for Thanksgiving, apparently based on information from my communications office. Since that was inaccurate, I asked that we communicate with the reporter to correct the record, by clarifying that I was at my parents’ home. The following day, my chief of staff reached out to that reporter, informing him that I was at my parents’ house, which resulted in his report last night.
I understand that the state regulations, issued on November 13th , limit the number of households at a private gathering to three. I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules, by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family. I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better."