“Attending the parties will be a very personal choice,” said Stephanie Grisham, spokesperson and chief of staff for First Lady Melania Trump. “It’s a long-standing tradition that people visit and enjoy the joy and iconic decor of the White House’s annual Christmas celebrations.”
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The decision to move forward with indoor events and other gatherings comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior White House advisers, and public health professionals across the country pleaded Americans not to travel on Thanksgiving or to spend the holidays with people from the outside. of their households.
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As the weather cooled, the virus has spread uncontrollably, with cases and hospitalizations increasing across the country and more than 250,000 people have died.
The White House has already been the site of several suspicious “super-spreader” events, and dozens of employees – along with the president, the first lady and their son – have been infected, along with a long list of aides. campaign and other advisers.
Grisham said the White House would take precautions to provide “the safest possible environment” for participants in the events. This includes smaller guest lists, requiring masks, encouraging social distancing on White House grounds, and hand sanitizer stations placed throughout the State Floor.
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“Guests can enjoy dishes prepared individually by chefs at catering stations protected by plexiglass. All past drinks will be covered. All service staff will wear masks and gloves to comply with food safety guidelines, ”she said.
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On Monday, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams repeatedly evaded questions about the planned White House holiday season while calling domestic gatherings of other Americans potential “super-diffusers.”
“I want Americans to know that we are at a critical point in our fight against this virus, regardless of the extent: cases, positivity, hospitalizations, death,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” . “So I ask the Americans – I beg you – to hold out a little longer. Keep Thanksgiving and celebrations modest and smart this year… do it outdoors if you can, keep it small, ideally under 10, and prepare ahead.
“These apply to the White House, they apply to the American people, they apply to everyone. We want you to stay safe so that we can get a vaccine, ”he said.
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Shortly after, the first lady attended a small ceremony to mark the arrival of the White House Christmas tree – in a horse-drawn wagon – an event that traditionally kicks off the holidays in the White House.
Ms Trump inspected the Fraser Fir, smiled, waved to cameras and chatted with masked drivers as the brass section of the United States Marine Band performed Christmas carols.
The National Christmas Tree Association has stated that, in normal years, “The White House Christmas Tree Selection is a media event at NCTA Champion Grower’s, attended by 100 or more people to watch the team. the White House select the perfect tree for the Blue Room. “
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“But 2020 is far from a normal year – there was no selection event this year.”
On Tuesday, events will continue as President Donald Trump participates in the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey Grace in a ceremony in the Rose Garden.
Trump has remained largely behind closed doors since losing his reelection bid. He refused to concede, filing baseless allegations of electoral fraud in an attempt to overturn the results and undermine one of the fundamental tenets of democracy.
© 2020 The Canadian Press