Joe Biden is facing criticism after he removing his face mask during a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, just hours after he signed an executive order mandating them to be worn on all federal properties.
Biden had long called on Americans to wear masks as a measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus and regularly appears in public with a facial covering. However, he did not wear one as he addressed the nation at a Celebrating America concert held at the Lincoln Memorial on the night of his inauguration, leading to an outcry from many on the right.
As Fox News reported, conservative figures called out Biden for what they saw as hypocrisy. One of the first measures the president took after being sworn in as president was to issue an executive order known as the "100-day masking challenge" that required face coverings and social distancing in all federal buildings and land, Fox News reported. It also mandated that people on airplanes, trains, and transit systems moving between states wear them.
"Does Joe Biden's new executive order mandating masks on federal property not apply to Joe Biden while he's on federal property? Because here he is at the Lincoln Memorial with no mask just hours after signing it," tweeted conservative pundit Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Biden's appearance at a press briefing on Thursday, saying that the president had undertaken a number of other precautions in the name of safety and that he was there to celebrate his inauguration.
"I think he was celebrating in the evening of a historic day in our country," she said, via the Washington Examiner. "We take a number of COVID precautions, as you know, here, in terms of testing, social distancing, mask-wearing ourselves."
"I think we have bigger issues to worry about at this time."
As the Washington Examiner noted, Biden decided against holding an inaugural ball out of precaution due to the pandemic and was seen wearing a mask throughout Wednesday's events as he was in close proximity to others. However, he did take it off to deliver remarks and when he was able to remain socially distant. The report noted that other members of his family removed their face coverings for photos.
Many of Biden's early actions as president have been aimed at addressing the pandemic and speeding up the rollout of vaccinations across the country.