White House to host stripped-down holiday festivities amid COVID surge

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a scaled-back season at the White House for former President Donald Trump’s final Christmas in office.

This month, however, reports indicate that the Biden administration is cutting out even more traditional holiday celebrations and implementing a range of other restrictive safety measures.

“Strong COVID protocols”

According to the Daily Mail, one modification involves replacing cocktail parties with self-guided tours of the decorations.

Furthermore, invited guests must be fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test. They will have 30 minutes to view the White House trimmings. Neither President Joe Biden nor first lady Jill Biden is scheduled to be present for any of the tours.

Another notable change is the apparent cancellation of the annual Congressional Ball. As of the latest reports available, invitations for such an event have not yet been sent out.

“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,” said Michael LaRosa, a spokesperson for the first lady.

Despite the public health crisis, Trump not only held the yearly ball but also hosted around 20 other holiday-themed parties at the White House. Of course, those events had a reduced number of guests with many opting to wear face masks.

“Still in the middle of a pandemic”

Biden did attend a Democratic National Committee holiday event on Tuesday with roughly 400 other party insiders. He apologized at that time for the reduced schedule, explaining that he had hoped the availability of vaccines would have helped restore the nation back to normal this year.

For her part, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed pushback against the restrictions currently in place.

“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” she said, according to The Washington Post. “We’re still taking precautions as it relates to large events, big visitors.”

Regardless of the limitations, Pskai promised that the White House staff is “going to continue to celebrate, to embrace the holiday season and look for ways we can do that.”

Of course, there are some other reasons that Biden might want a low-key holiday season this year. As rampant inflation fuels the president’s plummeting poll numbers, a big White House blowout might send the wrong message to millions of Americans who believe there is not much to celebrate.

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