Iconic New York Public Library lions mask up to set an example even as Trump stubbornly refuses to wear one

The New York City institution shared pictures of the two lion sculptures - Patience and Fortitude, in its bid to spread the message

                            Iconic New York  Public Library lions mask up to set an example even as Trump stubbornly refuses to wear one
(Getty Images)

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is planning to re-open select physical locations on July 13 after coronavirus lockdown. Though the lockdown has been put to an end amid the coronavirus pandemic, the risk is still there, and face masks are considered to be a crucial barrier to stop the further spread of the virus.

The NYPL and its two iconic lions also understand the importance of face masks in these critical times. The two lions statues outside of the NYPL's Bryant Park location are now wearing masks to set an example for others, including President Donald Trump. The special masks are customized for the lions’ giant, marble faces, CBS News reported.

Though face masks have been considered a crucial barrier to combat the spread of the deadly virus, Trump has repeatedly refused to wear one. In April, he said a president donning a mask wouldn't look right. And more recently, the US leader said that people who wear masks are signaling disapproval of him. "The mask is a double-edged sword," Trump told The Wall Street Journal.

However, a number of Republicans are now in favor of wearing a face mask. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also recently talked about the advantages of the masks and endorsed them as part of a "new middle ground" between a return to normal life and strict Covid-19 restrictions. "We need new routines, new rhythms, and new strategies for this new middle ground in between. It's the task of each family, each small business, each employer and all levels of government to apply common sense and make this happen,” McConnell said.He added: “We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people. Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter.”

Given the building consensus around wearing masks, the library seems to be doing its bit to spread the message.

The library - which serves the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island - shared pictures of the two lion sculptures -- Patience and Fortitude -- on its Instagram page. The caption of the post read:

“As NYPL prepares to gradually reopen select physical locations on July 13, our beloved lions #PatienceAndFortitude are setting an example to remind New Yorkers to stay safe. To pick up or drop off materials when locations reopen, masks will be mandatory. Learn about services that will be offered during reopening, locations, and more at nypl.org/coronavirus or by visiting the link in our bio.”

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According to the NYPL, the two lions marble statues have guarded the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street for 109 years. They received their masks that are three feet wide and two feet tall on June 29 morning. In a press release, NYPL president Anthony W. Marx said: “Patience and Fortitude are the perfect symbols for the strengths our City and our nation need now even more. Like them, New Yorkers are strong and resilient and can weather any storm. We will get to the other side of this public health crisis together.”

“But to do so, we must remain vigilant, we must have patience and fortitude, and we must follow what experts tell us, especially as we continue to reopen our cities. The lions, protectors of knowledge and truth who have seen 109 years worth of history, are setting that example,” Marx added.

However, it was not the first time, Patience and Fortitude have worn something. Every December, they wear wreaths, during the 2000 Subway Series, they even wore Mets and Yankees caps, and to celebrate the library system's Centennial in 1995, the two statues donned top hats. “The masks—like anything placed on the historic lions—were made with non-eroding material to ensure that they cannot damage the marble,” the press release stated.

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The NYPL site has also stated that as it starts reopening in the second week of July, it “will begin by offering grab-and-go service at eight library locations”. The users will also have limited access to the area for returns and to pick up materials that they have booked. “Patrons can start placing holds on physical materials via our online catalog starting on Monday, July 6 in advance of the reopening, or via phone starting July 13,” the site added.

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