Speaking to press on Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the Biden administration's new push for travel restrictions in light of the latest named variant of the Covid-19 virus, Omicron, which was identified in South Africa.
Fox News' Peter Doocy asked about the new travel ban on travelers from several African countries. "Before Joe Biden's president, he said that COVID travel restrictions on foreign countries were hysterical xenophobia and fear monitoring. So what changed?" Doocy asked.
"Well I would say first to put in for context, Peter, what the President was critical of was the way that the former President put out, I believe, a xenophobic tweet, and what he called the coronavirus, and who he directed it at," Psaki said. She was referring to President Trump's habit of calling Covid the "China virus," to indicate that the virus emerged from China, which it did.
Social media platforms, fact-checkers, and Democrat politicians often slammed Trump for this, saying that there was no evidence that the virus emerged from a lab in Wuhan, China. Later, what was termed the "lab-leak theory," became commonly accepted as the most likely scenario. That narrative change came after Biden was elected president.
"The President has not been critical of travel restrictions," Psaki said. "We have put those in place ourselves. We put them in place ourselves in the spring, but no, he does not believe, he believes we should follow the advice of health and medical experts. That's exactly what he did, and putting in place these restrictions over the weekend."
"We saw the President shopping indoors on Saturday behind glass that says 'face covering required' but his face was uncovered. Why?" Doocy asked. President Biden was in Nantucket over the weekend and was spotted shopping, and drinking a milkshake, despite the very obvious large sign requiring masks. Nantucket also has a local mask mandate in place.
"The President is somebody who follows the recommendations in the advice of the CDC," Psaki said. "I don't know what the circumstances were at that particular moment."
"He was shopping in a store and on the glass outside it said 'face covering required' and we could see him inside and his face was uncovered," Doocy clarified.
"Well, again, Peter," Psaki repeated, "our recommendation advice continues to be for people to wear masks when they are required in establishments. I don't know what this establishment was. The President obviously follows the health the advice of his health and medical team."
Peter took aim at Biden's latest guidance, delivered Monday morning, in light of the new variant and precautions that Americans could take. "Is there concern that when the President says today, please wear your masking doors in public settings around other people and he doesn't do that, that it's going to make it harder to get people to follow?" He asked.
"I think you see the American people and all of you see the President wearing a mask every time he comes out to an event when he's sitting in meetings and certainly he will continue to model behavior he hopes the American people will follow, not for his benefit but to save their own lives and the lives of their friends and neighbors," Psaki said.
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