Nancy Pelosi seen without mask inside San Francisco hair salon

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Media caption,

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi says her salon visit was a "setup" and they her an apology.

The most powerful elected US Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, has visited a hair salon in San Francisco, breaking rules that only allow service outdoors, in order to control the spread of coronavirus.

Ms Pelosi was also seen with a face mask around her neck rather than over her mouth. She has criticised President Donald Trump for not wearing a mask.

A spokesman said she did not realise she was breaking her home city's rules.

Mr Trump said she was being "decimated" after lecturing everyone else.

Thousands of California businesses have shut as part of measures to fight coronavirus.

Image source, eSalon
Image caption,
Security camera footage from eSalon SF shows Nancy Pelosi without a mask on

The footage obtained by Fox News showed the House of Representatives speaker inside the premises of eSalon SF on Monday.

A stylist, who was wearing a mask, was shown following her.

Mrs Pelosi - who always wears masks in public - often admonishes Republicans to "listen to the science" on the pandemic.

Defending her visit, spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement: "This business offered for the Speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business."

"The Speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment."

Mrs Pelosi has herself previously cited US Centers for Disease Control guidelines recommending that Americans wear face masks in public, especially when physical distancing measures are difficult.

After Monday's appointment, the House speaker appeared on MSNBC with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

She told the network that Mr Trump had "slapped science right in the face" last week by allowing an audience of mainly mask-less invitees on the White House lawn to watch his speech to the Republican convention.

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The salon owner, Erica Kious, told Fox News she rents chairs to a stylist, who notified her that Mrs Pelosi's assistant had called, saying her boss wanted to come in for a wash and blow dry.

Ms Kious told the cable network: "It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can't work." 

More than 5,000 businesses in the San Francisco Bay area alone have closed since March, over 2,000 of them permanently, during the pandemic, according to a recent study of Yelp data.

Outdoor haircuts were allowed in California from Tuesday, under new rules announced by the mayor, but indoor salons remain shut.

Senate Republicans suggested the House speaker was a hypocrite.

Media caption,

'They want to throw God's wonderful breathing system out'

They tweeted: "Speaker Pelosi has pushed policies that would keep our economy closed and our small businesses shut down.

"But for herself? A salon visit whenever she pleases."

The House speaker has previously said Republicans could help create the conditions to safely reopen if they would only "listen to the scientists".

Mrs Pelosi has also repeatedly criticised Mr Trump's decision to largely spurn face coverings, calling him a "coward" and saying: "Real men wear masks."

The US president reminded the speaker of her statements, vowing to win the House in elections in November.

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And he praised the salon owner for "turning her in".

The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than six million people in the US, while some 185,000 deaths have been recorded.