Video shows workers removed social distancing signs before Trump Tulsa rally: WaPo
President Trump’s reelection campaign removed thousands of stickers from seats intended to encourage social distancing in the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., where the president held a campaign rally earlier this month, according to multiple reports.
The BOK Center purchased 12,000 stickers that read “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” in an effort to keep seats open between attendees amid the coronavirus pandemic. On the day of the June 20 rally, event staff had placed them on seats throughout the 19,000-person capacity arena.
Individuals with the Trump campaign then directed event staff to stop using the stickers and removed them, an unnamed source confirmed to The Washington Post.
In a video obtained by the outlet, two men can be seen removing the stickers.
The removal was first reported by Billboard Magazine.
Public Health officials including those on the White House coronavirus task force as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have explicitly warned against large gatherings in enclosed spaces. The CDC and federal health experts also recommend social distancing 6 feet apart and wearing a mask to stem the spread of the disease.
The Washington Post reported that a member of Trump’s campaign team told area management to stop placing the stickers. However, event staffers were told to continue applying the notices, and campaign staff later took them down.
Rally attendees were seen during the Saturday event clustered together without leaving an empty seat between themselves and others. Many attendees also did not wear masks to the event.
Doug Thornton, executive vice president of ASM Global, which manages the BOK Center, told Billboard that, “They also told us that they didn’t want any signs posted saying we should social distance in the venue.”
“The campaign went through and removed the stickers,” he said.
Local outlets also reported that BOK staff were placing the stickers on seats in an effort to encourage social distancing ahead of the event last week.
Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told the Post that “The rally was in full compliance with local requirements. In addition, every rally attendee received a temperature check prior to admission, was given a face mask, and provided ample access to hand sanitizer.”
The Trump campaign handed out masks and small bottles of hand sanitizer branded with “Make America Great Again 2020.”
A senior White House official told the Washington Post that Trump and the White House did not ask that the stickers be removed. The campaign also told the outlet that “There were signs posted and we are not aware of any campaign staff asking that they be removed.”
The director of the Tulsa Health Department Bruce Dart said ahead of the rally that he recommended the event be postponed until it was safe to hold a large indoor event and protect attendees from coronavirus. The number of COVID-19 cases also spiked in the state weeks ahead of the rally.
Just hours before the event, six members of the Trump campaign’s advance team tested positive for the coronavirus. Following the event, two other staffers tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the rally.
The Hill has reached out to the Trump campaign and ASM Global for comment.