Pinera was hit with the penalty on Friday, local health authorities announced in a statement, noting that the president will pay more than than 2.5 million Chilean pesos (just over $3,500) after filing a “self-complaint” notifying them of his “non-compliance with the use of a mask in a public space” in the coastal commune of Zapallar.
However, the fine only came after Pinea’s maskless selfie, apparently taken with a stranger at the beach on December 5, made the rounds online and drew outrage from citizens, with some blasting the executive for violating rules imposed by his own administration.
Less than a day after the photo surfaced, Pinera issued an apology on social media, calling the bare-faced photo op a “mistake that I regret.”
“Yesterday I went for a walk on the beach, which I had not done since last year. The walk was quite lonely until some people recognized me and asked me to take a picture,” he said.
Surely I should have put on the mask, but because of the speed with which the events occurred I did not do it, and it was a mistake that I regret and I apologize…Without a doubt, personal care is very important to avoid new infections and we must all respect the rules.
The selfie debacle is not Pinera’s first photo-based gaffe. He sparked outrage after appearing in a snap at a festive pizza party on the same night that massive political protests ignited in the country’s capital, Santiago, last year.
Chile has tallied more than 581,000 coronavirus infections and some 16,000 deaths during its outbreak, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. The Latin American nation saw a peak in cases over its winter, between May and June, with new infections tapering off in recent weeks with the arrival of warmer weather.
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