Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden on Thursday said he cannot force the public to wear masks in general but 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,” Mr. Biden said at a CNN town hall event. “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 he wants to see governors enforce mask mandates.
“I can do that on federal property,” he said. “As president, I will do that. On federal land I’d have the authority. 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.”
Mr. Biden said on Wednesday that he believes he would have the legal authority to issue some kind of executive order on mask-wearing but that he couldn’t guarantee that he did.
Mr. Biden had suggested a national mask mandate last month at the Democratic National Convention.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris then said nobody would be punished if they violated the mandate, calling it a “standard.”
The “drive-in” event on Thursday was being held at PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the New York Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate.
Audience members and cars were spaced out due to COVID-19.
President Trump lampooned the format en route to his own rally in Wisconsin on Thursday evening.
“On Air Force One heading to Wisconsin. Biden refused to go there to apologize for not showing up for the failed Democrat Convention. So funny to watch the Fake News fawning over Sleepy Joe’s ridiculous ‘car press conference’. Pathetic!” the president said on Twitter.