Jan. 24, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A Queens lawmaker who has come under fire for her opposition to vaccine mandates has slammed a group of progressive city council members who posed maskless for a photograph inside a Brooklyn restaurant over the weekend.
Republican Council Member Vickie Paladino, who earlier this year was denied entry to the Council Chambers for not showing proof of vaccination, said the progressive lawmakers–including Queens council members Julie Won and Tiffany Cabán–were hypocrites, saying that they are telling their constituents that the city is in the midst of a COVID-19 health emergency yet they are maskless after their meal.
The photo shows Won, Cabán, and a number of other council members close together inside Miti Miti restaurant, located at 138 5th Ave. The photo of the group smiling was posted to Twitter Saturday afternoon by Brooklyn Council Member Chi Ossé, who is also in the photo.
Won, Cabán and Brooklyn lawmaker Shahana Hanif are standing to the rear of the group. The other people in the photo — who are seated — are Brooklyn Council Members Sandy Nurse, Lincoln Restler and Alexa Avilés as well as Bronx Council Member Amanda Farías. There is food and drinks on the table.
The photo is captioned: “Up to no good.”
The post went viral on Twitter generating nearly 600 retweets and quoted retweets.
Paladino, who is an outspoken critic of mask requirements and vaccine mandates, took exception to the photo and used it as an opportunity to criticize city COVID-19 policies.
She said the photo exposes the group of lawmakers for not fearing the virus despite telling their constituents that the city is undergoing a health emergency — which necessitates drastic restrictions on people including school children.
“They keep school children masked for eight hours a day, and force them to eat lunch outside, six feet apart, with no talking,” Paladino wrote as part of a lengthy Twitter thread in a retweet of the photo Sunday.
“And yet here they are indoors and maskless at a NYC restaurant having a grand old time. And they don’t even care — they put this photo up themselves.”
Paladino slammed the “far-left” group of lawmakers for supporting ongoing restrictions and wrote that such policies affect children the most.
“This is not how people act who are legitimately scared of a ‘virus,’” she wrote.
“Because they’re not scared at all, they just want you to believe they are. It’s all a charade, to justify neverending power over your lives. The emergency ended a long time ago, and they know it.”
She also blasted a mask requirement in place for lawmakers to gain entry to the Council Chamber. Up until last week, Paladino had been denied entry to the chamber for refusing to show proof of vaccination under a council policy. She has since received a waiver.
Paladino, who represents District 19 in northeast Queens, said she has no issue with people gathering for meals but said the group of progressives seen in the photo were not practicing what they preach.
“What I have a problem with are hypocrites who perpetuate an endless health ’emergency’ and keep people terrified of daily life for no reason whatsoever. Especially when it hurts children the most,” Paladino wrote.
She used the photo as justification for the city to do away with all of its COVID-19 related restrictions.
Some of the COVID-19 restrictions currently in place include mask-wearing when indoors and in a public setting — regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 infection. It does not apply to cases where individuals are eating, drinking or performing.
Furthermore, unvaccinated individuals are not allowed to eat or drink at bars and restaurants under an emergency executive order issued by former Mayor Bill De Blasio that is still in place.
She said it was time for the city to lift all restrictions, much like the U.K. has done recently.
“End this charade once and for all,” Paladino wrote.
My far-left Council colleagues are so deeply, deeply concerned about ‘public health’ that we must be masked at all times in City Hall (unless there’s a NY Mag photo shoot happening), and preach the need for endless public sacrifice, especially among children. And here they are. https://t.co/vLF5smmll4
— Councilwoman Vickie Paladino (@VickieforNYC) January 23, 2022