Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer traveled to President Biden’s inauguration in the nation’s capital after telling residents in her state to stay home for months, including over the holidays, due to the pandemic.
“I am honored to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and ready to begin working closely with each of them to fight this virus, save lives and put the country back on track,” Whitmer said in a press release ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration.
However, Whitmer has enacted some of the strictest coronavirus measures in the country in her state and has “generally discouraged Michiganders from traveling and attending gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Certainly, she will adhere to all COVID-19 safety precautions as it relates to travel and while she’s there,” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said.
The mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, even warned against people traveling to the city for “public health” reasons and due to increased security following the siege of the Capitol.
“I want to reiterate my request to Americans enjoy this 59th inauguration of the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States at home. Enjoy it virtually on Jan. 20,” Bowser said. “We know this is the right request for our public safety and our public health.”
Some local conservatives voiced outrage over Whitmer’s trip, including Michigan Rising Action Executive Director Tori Sachs, who called on Whitmer to reopen the state.
“If Gov. Whitmer can fly to D.C. for a celebration, then she should immediately open all of Michigan’s small businesses that remained closed due to her orders,” Sachs said.
Indoor public gatherings and dining are prohibited in the state, and residents are required to work from home unless they “cannot feasibly” perform their job remotely, among other restrictions.
Ahead of the holidays, Whitmer urged residents in her state not to travel and to use video platforms to connect with family and friends instead of live visits.
“So we really are encouraging people not to travel for Christmas and start figuring out how to use Zoom to stay close,” Whitmer said in December.
Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether anything has changed since December with the virus for her to make the trip.
The Democratic governor was recently appointed as the co-chairwoman of Biden’s inaugural committee and was nominated to serve as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.