Joe Biden said during a town hall event that he can’t force the public to wear masks in general — but insisted that he would make people wear them while on federal property to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“I cannot mandate people wearing masks,” the Democratic presidential nominee said at the CNN event Thursday night. “I would make sure that I would call every governor in the country into the White House, say, ‘You should be putting mandates out.’
“And if they don’t, I’d call the mayors in their towns and their cities and say put out mandates,” he said. “I can do that on federal property. As president, I will do that. On federal land, I’d have the authority.”
The former veep added: “If you’re on federal land, you must wear a mask. In a federal building, you must wear a mask. And we could have a fine for them not doing it.”
On Wednesday, Biden said that while he believed he would have the legal authority as president to implement a nationwide mask mandate, he “can’t guarantee you that yet.”
When asked by a reporter how he would implement a national mask mandate, Biden said: “Our legal team thinks I can do that, based upon the degree to which there’s a crisis in those states, and how bad things are for the country.”
He later added “I would make the case — I’d make the case why it’s necessary. I’d have the scientists arrayed to lay out in detail why. And I would go to every governor … Republican and Democratic governors and I’d say, ‘We have to have this national mandate. We must do it.’”
At last month’s Democratic National Convention, Biden suggested a national mask mandate – but his vice presidential running mate Kamala Harris later said no one would be punished if they violated the mandate, calling it a “standard,” according to the Washington Times.
The socially distanced “drive-in” CNN event, where Biden was tossed softball questions Thursday, was held at PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the New York Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate.
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