Psaki: Christmas at the White House ‘doesn’t look exactly like it has always looked’
President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged on Tuesday that the holiday season at the White House isn’t quite the same as previous years in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It doesn’t look exactly like it has always looked here, but we are going to continue to celebrate, to embrace the holiday season, and look for ways we can do that,” Psaki said when asked if traditional holiday parties are taking place this year.
She pointed to a “variety of ways” the White House is celebrating, including the Christmas tree lighting and when first lady Jill Biden received the tree and unveiled her holiday decorations earlier this month.
The Bidens, Vice President Harris, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are slated to attend a holiday celebration for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday evening, where the president and vice president are expected to deliver remarks.
Psaki also said the White House is hosting holiday open houses for guests to see the holiday decorations “in the coming days,” adding that the White House will continue to stick to COVID-19 protocols during these events.
“As I touched on a little before … we’re going to be having some open houses, which a range of people will be invited to those open houses, have the opportunity to see the decorations and see the East Wing decorated and the Christmas tree the first lady welcomed just a few weeks ago,” she said when asked if the administration is forgoing the traditional parties for members of Congress.
“Obviously, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic; we’re still taking precautions as it relates to large events, big visitors, etc.,” she added.
The White House in past administrations has hosted more than 100 open houses and parties throughout the month of December. Last year, during a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Trump administration faced blowback for hosting 20 in-person holiday galas.
In November, Psaki acknowledged the holidays this year would “look a little bit different.”
At the time, which was before the omicron variant spread, options were being weighed for the holiday season that included hosting receptions outside on the South Lawn and having guests get a negative COVID-19 test before entering the White House grounds.
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