Fact Check-Several world leaders wore masks at virtual climate summit

U.S. President Joe Biden was not the only world leader to wear a mask at an April 2021 virtual climate summit, as social media users are claiming. Photos of the summit show that some of the other leaders also wore masks.

The posts (here) show pictures of the world leaders speaking on a video call with captions including “Biden wore a mask on a video call with world leaders. Meanwhile, no one else wore a mask” (here); “Pres. Biden masks up for a video call to discuss climate change with world leaders. He appears to be the only one wearing a mask” (here); and “Biden is the only one wearing a mask. Pathetic.” (here , here).

Biden invited dozens of heads of state from the world's largest countries to a two-day virtual climate summit on April 22 and 23 (here , here , here).

Biden is an advocate of mask wearing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (here , here).

The screenshot of Biden and the leaders in the social media posts appears to be from Ruptly footage of Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking at the summit on April 22, as seen here . Biden did wear a mask at certain points during the summit, as seen in the Ruptly footage and Reuters photos here , here and here .

Masks were worn by other world leaders at the summit, including Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore here ; Italian and Japanese Prime Ministers Mario Draghi and Yoshihide Saga here ; and President of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez and Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lotay Tshering here . Those sitting in a room with Biden, including U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, also wore masks at certain points in the summit, as seen here .

Biden’s Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, explained at a press conference here that Biden was wearing a mask as he was not alone in the room: “he had a pool there for portions. There were additional staff there, additional personnel.” She added he was also wearing a mask to send a “message to the world that he is putting in place precautions.”

Photos and footage showing Biden was not alone in the room are visible here and here .

The District of Columbia Mask Order in place at the time of the climate summit states that people should wear masks in office buildings unless they are in an enclosed office that no one else is permitted to enter (see sections two and four ).

Biden did remove his mask at some points in the summit, for example when he was speaking, as shown in Reuters photos here , here and here .


Partly false. While some screenshots show Biden to be the only leader wearing a mask during an April climate summit, other photos of the virtual event show the leaders of countries including Singapore, Italy, Japan, Argentina and Bhutan also wore masks.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .