Biden appears happy to lose mask in Europe yet insists on wearing it during domestic engagements

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When in Rome, eh Joe! How the President appears happy to lose the mask in Europe yet insists on wearing it even when surrounded by vaccinated staff at the White House

  • Images of Biden from Rome show him in close contact with Pope Francis, French President Emmanuel Macron and others without a mask
  • Biden is 78 years old and the pope is 84, and both of them are fully vaccinated
  • Rules for tourists who visit the Vatican say they must wear masks the whole time
  • During the G20 summit Biden was seen wearing a mask in most group settings 
  • However at one point he pulled it down around his chin to talk to India’s Modi
  • During domestic trips the president usually wears a mask unless he’s speaking 


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President Joe Biden is wrapping up the first leg of his European trip, heading to Glasgow after an action-packed few days in Italy – where the 78-year-old seemed to largely shun face masks. 

Photos of Biden meeting with Pope Francis, French President Emmanuel Macron and others one-on-one show the Democrat and fellow G-20 leaders mask-free even when in close contact. 

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When gathered in large groups it appears world leaders for the most part covered their faces.

But Biden’s maskless appearance during more intimate moments of his trip to Rome draw a stark contrast to when he’s seen at the White House wearing one even among his fully-vaccinated White House staff.

The president’s trip began last week in Vatican City, where he was given an unprecedented 90 minute audience with the pope. 

Biden removed his mast upon arrival at the Vatican gates, and did not appear to replace it

Biden removed his mast upon arrival at the Vatican gates, and did not appear to replace it

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He seemingly didn't wear a mask for the duration of his meeting with the 84-year-old head of the Catholic Church

He seemingly didn’t wear a mask for the duration of his meeting with the 84-year-old head of the Catholic Church

Biden was seen pulling down his mask in a crowded room to speak with Indian Prime Minister Modi

Biden was seen pulling down his mask in a crowded room to speak with Indian Prime Minister Modi

He didn't wear one when meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in a bilateral summit

He didn’t wear one when meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in a bilateral summit

In most other group settings Biden and other world leaders adhered to mask recommendations

In most other group settings Biden and other world leaders adhered to mask recommendations

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He arrived with First Lady Jill Biden and shook hands with Vatican greeters before entering for his meeting with Pope Francis. Nobody immediately involved save for Biden’s Secret Service detail was wearing a mask after the president removed his upon stepping out of one of his 85-car motorcade.

Later when images emerged of Biden and the 84-year-old head of the Catholic Church, there were no face coverings in sight. 

As of October 1 Vatican City rules state that people must show proof of vaccination, negative test or recovery from COVID to enter the territory. 

Tourists looking to visit the Vatican itself are required to wear a face covering the entire time.

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Later at the G20 summit, Biden held a bilateral meeting with France’s Macron where neither were seen wearing masks. 

And while leaders and other officials attending the global summit largely chose to wear masks during group events, Biden was seen speaking with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his mask around his chin.

Biden is often seen wearing a mask when departing for Marine One on the White House South Lawn

Biden is often seen wearing a mask when departing for Marine One on the White House South Lawn

He also wears masks to events outside of the White House unless delivering remarks

He also wears masks to events outside of the White House unless delivering remarks

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The president is seen with his face covered even when visiting places like classrooms and factories

The president is seen with his face covered even when visiting places like classrooms and factories

Modi wasn’t wearing a mask at all. Others spotted at the indoor event had their faces covered. 

At one point during the same event Macron is seen embracing Modi – the former was wearing his mask and the latter still was not.

In comparison, Biden’s trip to Cornwall in June for the G7 summit saw world leaders making more of a point to observe indoor mask recommendations.

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Save for when speaking to media, Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson were seen indoors at their meeting ahead of the summit masked-up.

Back home at the White House the president appears to be more mindful to observe COVID precautions in front of the cameras.  

He’s regularly seen wearing a mask when departing the White House for Marine 1. When touring factories, classrooms and other domestic engagements the president often chooses to cover his face unless he’s speaking.

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