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White House scales back holiday parties due to Covid concerns

By Kate Bennett, CNN

The White House will dramatically scale back holiday party festivities this year, due to ongoing Covid-19 concerns, opting instead for smaller open house-style events.

“In the coming days, we will host a limited number of Holiday Open Houses, inviting guests to see the Christmas decorations in person at the White House,” first lady Jill Biden’s press secretary Michael LaRosa told CNN.

The invitation-only open houses will be timed to 30-minute intervals per guest, with self-guided tours of the holiday decorations, a person familiar with the party protocols told CNN. Guests will also be required to take a Covid-19 test within 48 hours prior to their visit, if they cannot attest to being fully vaccinated.

Typically, the President and first lady can host several dozen events during the holiday season, sometimes making appearances at more than one per day. In the past, these parties have offered a festive opportunity to entertain staff, friends, donors, congressional members and staff, agencies, media and members of the United States Secret Service.

“Anyone who knows the Bidens knows how much they enjoy hosting and celebrating the holidays,” said LaRosa. “It is disappointing that we cannot host as many people as the Bidens would like to, but as we have done since Day 1 of the Biden Administration, we will continue to implement strong Covid protocols, developed in consultation with our public health advisers.”

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the White House holiday entertaining guidelines, saying, “Obviously, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. We’re still taking precautions as it relates to large events.”

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump flouted the Covid-19 protocols and gathering restrictions in place at the time, hosting more than a dozen holiday events at the White House.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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