At a time when authorities around the country are pleading with people to stay home and not crowd inside restaurants and bars, Rep. Devin Nunes has other ideas. In an interview on Fox News on Sunday, the California lawmaker said people should take advantage of this time to go out and enjoy that places are empty. “If you’re healthy, you and your family, it’s a great time to go out and go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in easy,” he said. “Let’s not hurt the working people in this country that are relying on wages and tips to keep their small business going.” Rather than go to the grocery store and spend thousands of dollars on food, “go to your local pub,” Nunes said.
Nunes called on people to go to their “local pub” on the same day the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, went on all the major Sunday talk shows and called on people to stay home as much as possible. Fauci even suggested he could be willing to back a national lockdown if it helped people stay in their homes.
Over the past few days, numerous leaders have been calling on people, particularly the young, to stop going out. “PLEASE stop crowding bars, restaurants, and public spaces right now. Eat your meals at home,” wrote Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter Saturday. Former President Barack Obama tweeted out a Washington Post piece Sunday writing that it illustrates “why we should all do the right thing and stay home to the fullest extent possible.”
Many were quick to criticize Nunes on social media. “This is irresponsibly, stupidly dangerous, and exactly the sort of thing a lot of us have been warning about for years: The GOP’s fanatic loyalty to protect Trump and his lies is literally threatening American lives,” tweeted science writer Phil Plait.
Nunes was not the only Republican politician to face backlash over contradicting official recommendations that people should stay home as much as possible. Oklahoma’s governor was also criticized for a tweet that included a photo of himself and his children at a crowded restaurant Saturday. “Eating with my kids and all my fellow Oklahomans at the @CollectiveOKC. It’s packed tonight!” Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote in the since-deleted tweet. Even though he deleted the tweet, the governor’s office made clear Stitt continues to stand by the message. “The governor will continue to take his family out to dinner and to the grocery store without living in fear and encourages Oklahomans to do the same,” Charlie Hannema, a spokesman for the governor, said.