WASHINGTON – Red and Gold party invitations make no mention of the coronavirus, nor do they acknowledge the festive message that public health officials have tried to emphasize to Americans: Stay home.
Instead, the invitations are the latest example of how President Trump spends his last weeks in office working in an alternative universe, denying the pandemic at the time of the pandemic.
“The President and Mrs. Trump are asking for the joy of her company at a ceremonial reception at the White House,” reads the cursive text placed under the presidential seal.
Administration officials say at least 20 White House party invitations have been issued so far, at 7 p.m. on the first Monday. Guest lists include current and former officials and allies who are non-state; Officials of the Republican National Commission; campaign staff; and some Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, will also host at least one “Christmas celebration” at the Naval Observatory, according to a copy of the invitation, which sets out a dress code for “cocktail clothing” and that all guests over 2 years old and food attendees service personnel wear a mask.
Social distancing also applies, and guests are invited to check their temperature when they arrive at Mr. Pence’s residence.
In more than half a dozen interviews on Tuesday, many guests said they did not plan to attend the White House because of the personal risk involved. Others joked that because so many people in the President’s career had already tested the virus positively, the White House had achieved herd immunity and was now a safe place to quickly view Christmas decorations.
The festive party season, which has been canceled in much of Washington, will be a rare occasion when the White House feels busy.
In recent weeks, there has been noticeably less pedestrian traffic inside and outside the West Wing to and from the Oval Office, as staff contemplating their careers allow room for a president who refuses to admit losing the election. Mr. Trump himself has shown little public appearance since the election was called to Joseph R. Biden Jr.
As Mr. Trump withdrew from the public eye, Mr. Biden tried to enter space. Last week, for example, he gave a crude but optimistic Thanksgiving speech urging Americans to stay home for the holidays, saying it was a patriotic duty to take appropriate precautions.
But the White House holiday season – the home pastry team with 25 pounds of chocolate and 25 pounds of royal icing with a gingerbread house – is one area where a president who breaks standards intends to preserve traditions if it means ignoring disease prevention and prevention centers.
Festive events include a party hosted by Mr. Trump on the afternoon of December 11 for West Wing staff and their families. According to copies of guests and invitations, receptions are also expected on the evening of December 14 and 16.
While the invitations did not mention any coronavirus security precautions, Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump, the first lady’s chief of staff, said the White House took some steps to ensure the safety of participants. Guests are strongly encouraged to wear a mask when they are not eating and guest lists were smaller than usual, Ms Grisham said. He did not say how many people were invited to each event.
Other restrictions were put in place that were not introduced when the president organized a large selection at an indoor party in the White House on election night, he added.
“Guests will enjoy meals taken separately by the chefs at the plexiglass sheltered food stations,” Ms Grisham said in a statement. “It applies to every drink delivered. All service personnel wear masks and gloves to comply with food safety guidelines. Attending parties will be a very personal choice. It is an old tradition for people to visit and enjoy the merry and iconic decorations of the White House’s annual Christmas holidays. “
Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, the Democrat’s latest guidance, limits indoor gatherings in the city to 10 people. From Dec. 14, restaurants in Washington will only be able to operate at 25 percent capacity indoors.
The White House is exempt from city restrictions because it applies to federal property.