Biden says opposing mask mandates isn’t freedom as Trump says he’s ‘proud’ of Canada truckers

Experts warned trucker protests could spread to US this weekend

John Bowden
Monday 14 February 2022 14:48 GMT
President Biden spoke about freedoms in an interview with NBC
President Biden spoke about freedoms in an interview with NBC (NBC)
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President Joe Biden dismissed the idea that refusing to take steps to inhibit the spread of Covid-19 was a matter of “personal freedom” in an interview airing Sunday with the Super Bowl in which he distinguished the right to personal choice from the right to pose a risk to others.

Sitting down with NBC’s Lester Holt for an interview that aired in part during the Super Bowl pregame show, the president was asked about the decisions of some in the stands at the game and around the country to violate local mask mandates which remain in place in many jurisdictions including Washington DC and Los Angeles.

“You were interviewed a year ago about the Super Bowl, and you expressed hope that come this year that they'd be able to fill the stands again with people. And that apparently is going to be the case,” said Mr Holt, before asking: “However, many of those people won't be wearing masks despite the local law in Los Angeles. What is your message to people who want desperately for this to be over, and to be able to resume the lives that they remember?

The president responded: “If your exercising personal freedom puts someone else in jeopardy, their health in jeopardy, I don't consider that being very, dealing with freedom.”

His comments come as former President Donald Trump said he was “proud” to see that some of the truckers were holding Trump signs as they protested.

“I see they have Trump signs all over the place and I’m proud that they do. But that’s what happens, you can push people so far and our country is a tinderbox too, don’t kid yourself. And there are plenty of our country up there right now,” Mr Trump told Fox and Friends on Saturday.

“When you look at what’s happening in Canada ... our country, I think, is far more of a tinderbox than Canada.”

The Department of Homeland Security said in a memo that they had recieved information that protesting truckers would be targeting major cities in the US over the coming weeks – with the Super Bowl flagged as a potential location for demonstrators.

A spokesperson from the department told NPR: “DHS is tracking reports of a potential convoy that may be planning to travel to several US cities. We have not observed specific calls for violence within the United States associated with this convoy and are working closely with our federal, state and local partners to continuously assess the threat environment and keep our communities safe.”

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