WHCA rearranges seats in briefing room to increase social distancing

WHCA rearranges seats in briefing room to increase social distancing
© Getty Images

The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) on Monday implemented rearranged seating in the briefing room to increase social distancing in an effort to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

The WHCA issued new policies late Sunday as part of an ongoing effort to limit the risk of exposure to the virus. The changes are being done in concert with stricter White House protocols, such as temperature checks for those entering the facility.

The WCHA urged reporters to work remotely if possible and limit staffing at the White House to only what is essential. The organization also rolled out a new seating chart in the briefing room that leaves gaps between seats.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reporters arriving Monday morning at the White House tweeted out photos of the new arrangement, which temporarily reduces the number of outlets with a seat. Those without a seat are being discouraged from attending.

"We understand these restrictions are deeply disruptive to our members and their ability to do their jobs," WHCA President Jon Karl said in a statement. "But we are forced to take these steps to do our part to ensure that there is a healthy pool available to cover the president and inform the public during this critical time."

More than 3,600 Americans are confirmed to have the coronavirus as of Monday morning, and at least 66 people with the virus have died, according to The New York Times.

State and local leaders have directed bars and restaurants to close to diners in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance on Sunday recommending no events with 50 or more people be held for the next eight weeks.