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‘I’m in a tough spot’: Raimondo responds to controversial photo of her at restaurant

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has received significant backlash ever since a photo of her maskless at a Providence restaurant surfaced.

Raimondo has continuously urged Rhode Islanders to “follow the rules” while out in public, which includes wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and interacting only with people from the same household.

The photo shows Raimondo drinking a glass of wine at Barnaby’s Public House, which hosted a wine and paint night last week. The photo has been circulating on social media and was recently featured during a segment on FOX News.

During his year-end interview with the governor, Tim White asked Raimondo about the photo of her and whether she sees it as “hypocritical.”

“I guess I can understand why it’s hypocritical,” she said of the photo. “But we’re following the same rules everyone else has to follow.”

Watch Tim White’s full year-end interview with Governor Raimondo on this week’s episode of Newsmakers.

Raimondo said throughout the duration of her time there, she and her husband wore their masks, socially distanced themselves from other participants and only stayed briefly.

She said the reason her mask was off in the photo was because she was drinking wine. She said she and her husband only took their masks off when they were eating or drinking.

“I’m not going to follow special rules,” she added.

Raimondo said the reason she was out and about was to show her support for the state’s small businesses.

“As governor, I feel a little bit extra responsibility to support our local businesses,” she said. “So what my husband and I did that night was walk up and down Westminster Street … and we spent as much money as we could in local businesses.”

When asked if she was worried the photo would undercut her overall message to Rhode Islanders, she acknowledged that she’s in a tough spot.

“I always worry, but on the flip side, like I said, I want to spend my dollars on the local economy,” she said. “It’s also good for me to speak with local businesses … but I’m following the same rules that I’m asking everyone else to follow.”

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