A day after donning a face mask for the first time during a liturgical service, Pope Francis was back to his mask-less old ways on Wednesday despite surging coronavirus infections across Europe.
Francis shunned a face mask again during his Wednesday general audience in the Vatican auditorium, and didn't wear one when he greeted a half-dozen mask-less bishops at the end. He shook hands and leaned in to chat privately with each one.
While the clerics wore masks while seated during the audience, all but one took his mask off to speak to the pope. Only one kept it on, and by the end of his tete-a-tete with Francis, had lowered it under his chin.
Vatican regulations now require facemasks to be worn indoors and out where distancing can't be "always guaranteed." The Vatican hasn't responded to questions about why the pope wasn't following either Vatican regulations or basic public health measures to prevent COVID-19.
Francis explained to the audience why he didn't plunge into the crowd at the start of the audience as he usually would do. But he said his distance from them was for their own well-being, to prevent crowds from forming around him.