January 25, 2021


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COVID-19: Trump White House plans indoor Christmas, Hanukkah parties

  • The White House is planning indoor holiday parties over Christmas and Hanukkah, officials have told Axios. 
  • The CDC classes medium-sized events with people traveling from outside the area as “higher-risk.”
  • The White House did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s query about numbers. A statement to Axios said guest lists will be “smaller” this year. 
  • Mask-wearing will be required and food service will undergo a number of precautions, it said.
  • The events come as the White House is connected to continued outbreaks of the virus, including positive tests from Donald Trump Junior and Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Trump White House plans to hold indoor Christmas and Hanukkah parties despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warnings against large gatherings, Axios reported. 

An invitation for one of President Donald Trump’s holiday parties seen by the outlet makes no mention of masks or any other precaution, even as the White House is dogged by continued cases of COVID-19.

A White House official, who was not named, told the outlet that the events would be held indoors. 

The chief of staff to First Lady Melania Trump, Stephanie Grisham, told Axios that masks will be required and provided, and that the guest lists are “smaller” this year. The White House did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s questions about the exact number of invited guests. 

Under Washington DC’s Phase Two guidance, federal properties are exempt from a rule forbidding gatherings of more than 50 people in most locations.

But the CDC has issued advice for party gatherings. It says that events like these — larger gatherings to which people may travel some distance — are higher-risk activities. 

It is possible that the White House has invited only people in the local DC area, but given the scope of the federal government it would be unlikely. 

White house christmas decorations 2019 trump

Decorations at the White House on Monday, Dec 02, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Grisham told Axios that social distancing will be “encouraged” at the White House parties, and that officials will provide “the safest environment possible.”

“This includes smaller guest lists, masks will be required and available, social distancing encouraged while on the White House grounds, and hand sanitizer stations throughout the State Floor.” (The State Floor is the is the first floor of the White House residence.)

Grisham added: “Guests will enjoy food individually plated by chefs at plexiglass-protected food stations. All passed beverages will be covered. All service staff will wear masks and gloves to comply with food safety guidelines.”

Trump and his administration have had a cavalier attitude to mask-wearing and social distancing both in the White House and at rallies.

The White House has seen several outbreaks of COVID-19, most recently including Donald Trump Junior and Andrew Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani’s son and a White House aide. 

The nomination ceremony for Justice Amy Coney Barrett, held in early October, has been pegged as a likely super-spreader event, where few people wore masks or practiced social distancing. 

More than a dozen White House staff and GOP officials tested for the coronavirus following that event. 

The White House did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for further comment. 

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