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Kim Janey says she put mask ‘right back on’ after photo inside North End restaurant




Politics

The mask-less photo was posted on social media the same day Boston’s indoor mask mandate took effect.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey during a press conference last week at Boston City Hall. Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe

Less than 24 hours after Boston’s indoor mask mandate took effect last week, Acting Mayor Kim Janey was already facing scrutiny over a mask-less photo of herself inside a North End restaurant.

But according to Janey and the restaurant’s owner, it was only for a moment.

“I always wear my mask indoors,” Janey said in a statement. “I removed it inside a restaurant [Friday] to eat and drink and put it right back on after taking a photo. We should all mask up indoors and do our part to keep Boston safe.”

The explanation comes after a photo of Janey smiling with Massimo Tiberi, the owner of Arya Trattoria, was posted by the North End restaurant’s Instagram page and began circulating on social media late Friday night.

Tiberi told the Boston Herald that Janey had been outside and came into the restaurant before it had opened for indoor dining (according to Arya Trattoria’s website, the restaurant doesn’t open until 5 p.m. on Fridays).

“She came in with a mask, she came in for a photo,” Tiberi said, adding that Janey took off her mask for the photo and then put it back on.

Tiberi, who frequently highlights celebrities at his restaurant, also posted a (mask-less) photo Saturday night with New England Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson.

Boston’s new indoor mask mandate, which took effect at 8 a.m. on Friday, does include exceptions for “offices or businesses that are not open to the public.”

However, it’s unclear if a restaurant that serves the public but hasn’t yet opened falls under that criteria. According to the face covering order, restaurant customers may only remove face coverings indoors “when they are actively eating or drinking.”

Janey initially deflected questions Saturday about her photo with Tiberi.

Asked about the photo, Janey stressed the importance of wearing a mask indoors and “even outdoors, when possible, when you’re in crowded areas,” according to the Herald (though a separate photo posted by the State House News Service showed Janey unmasked on a crowded North End street Friday night).

Janey announced the mask mandate amid an increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant, which researchers say can sicken and be spread by even vaccinated individuals, though the vaccines continue to be overwhelmingly effective against preventing severe illness. Evidence also suggests that virtually all COVID-19 transmission occurs indoors.

Janey’s predecessor, Marty Walsh, faced similar scrutiny last September after posing for an unmasked photo at a small family wedding. The former mayor later said he had his mask in his hand and “probably should have put it on,” calling the decision a “foolish move.”

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