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Austin mayor apologizes for urging residents to stay home while on vacation in Mexico

The mayor of Austin, Texas, on Wednesday apologized for attending a wedding and traveling to Mexico for a vacation after urging residents to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“I want you to know that I regret that travel,” Mayor Steve Adler said in a video statement. “I wouldn’t travel now. I didn’t over Thanksgiving, and I won’t over Christmas, and no one should. Everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now because we are in the orange area.”

Adler, the two-term mayor of Austin, said he attended a small, private wedding for his daughter in November and then traveled with his family to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In a video filmed from his vacation, Adler urged residents to stay home, citing the rising number of coronavirus cases. “We need to stay home if you can,” he said. “Do everything you can to try to keep the numbers down. This is not the time to relax.”

He first revealed he was on vacation in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman. 

“I recognize that the fact that I took that trip, and at the same time, was continuing to urge people to be cautious is confusing,” Adler said in his apology Wednesday. “I know that others have chosen not to travel under the same circumstances, and I know that in my position, I need to send a clearer message. I’m sorry I took that trip. It was a lapse in judgment, and I want you to know that I apologize.”

Adler said his actions set a “bad example” to the people of Austin but he did not break any established COVID-19 restrictions for the city. At the time, the city was operating under its Stage 3 health recommendations, which urges residents to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. 

Adler told the Austin American-Statesman that 20 people attended the wedding. He said his daughter originally invited 100 people but disinvited most of the attendees. “It’s a hard thing for a girl to do, but there are girls all over the city that are having to do the same kind of thing, couples all over the city that are having to do the same kind of thing,” Adler said. 

Austin is located in Travis County, where there are currently over 2,600 active virus cases and 222 hospitalizations, according to health officials. More than 486 people have died from the virus there during the pandemic. 

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