Obama's 60th Birthday Celebration on Martha's Vineyard Will Be a Scaled-Back Celebration
Spokesperson Hannah Hankins said the former president will celebrate his birthday with family and close friends in place of the large outdoor party he had planned, according to a statement obtained by USA TODAY.
President Obama has scaled down his guest list for his 60th birthday celebration set to take place at his home on Martha’s Vineyard this weekend as the Delta variant causes a new surge in coronavirus infections, CBS News reported.
Obama's upcoming event drew criticism from some users on social media for organizing an event during a pandemic.
On Wednesday morning, Obama spokesperson Hannah Hankins said the former president will celebrate his birthday with family and close friends in place of the large outdoor party he had planned, according to a statement obtained by USA TODAY.
“This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with covid safeguards in place. Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends,” the statement reads. “President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”
The Obamas had planned to host a soiree that included friends, family and former aides, and a staff of 200 to be held at their sprawling $12 million estate that features 30 acres of oceanfront property. There were 475 guests confirmed and all of them were asked to be vaccinated and to submit a negative COVID-19 test within a certain time frame before the celebration, Axios previously reported.
Oprah Winfrey, actor George Clooney and director Steven Spielberg were among the invitees, The New York Post reported.
A White House spokesperson told Axios that President Biden would be unable to attend the special event and sent his birthday wishes.
The Delta variant deemed highly contagious has triggered a surge in coronavirus cases in many states and cities nationwide prompting officials to put COVID-19 protocols back in place. Obama officials did not disclose whether guests will be required to wear masks, Axios reported.
Massachusetts, where Martha’s Vineyard is located is among one of the states that has seen an escalation in coronavirus cases. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly Covid Data Tracker the level of community transmission is rated as “substantial.”
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during her daily briefing that the administration advises "everyone to follow public health guidelines, which I know the former president, who is a huge advocate of getting vaccinated, of following the guidance of public health experts, would certainly advocate for himself as well,” CBS reported.
Last week, the CDC urged all Americans, including those who are fully vaccinated to wear masks indoors in areas of the country with “substantial” or “high” transmission rates of COVID-19, a report said.
On Friday, President Biden said that Americans can “in all probability” expect to face more restrictions due to an increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant, CBS reported.
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