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White House briefing room to return to full capacity

White House briefing room to return to full capacity
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The White House press briefing room will return to 100 percent capacity on Monday. 

"Since the onset of the pandemic, our priority has been to keep journalists safe, while ensuring that the critical work of informing the public could continue uninterrupted," the White House Correspondents Association said in a memo sent to reporters on Sunday. "We appreciate the sacrifices made by every member of the press corps and we thank you all for your cooperation over the last 15 months." 

The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room will return to full seating capacity Monday and the White House Correspondents Association’s pre-pandemic seating chart will return. A review of permanent seating will begin toward the end of this year, the association said. 

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The association said said more than 98 percent of the 500 member journalists who responded to a recent survey said they were fully vaccinated, meaning more than two weeks had passed since their second coronavirus vaccine dose or the only shot of a single-shot regimen. 

All press capacity limitations on the White House grounds will also be lifted on Monday, including on the North Lawn and at indoor press workspaces, which will return to pre-pandemic assignment orientation. 

The White House signaled late last month a return to full operations for press working at the building could come soon. 

“I can confirm we are a warm and fuzzy crew and we like to hug around here but we were waiting for that to be allowed by CDC guidelines, which we certainly abide by,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on May 21. “We are, as many organizations and companies are, working to implement these guidelines here at the White House so what you’ve seen over the last couple of days is efforts to do exactly that and that includes welcoming back and having a full briefing room very soon." 

Three days later, The White House bumped up capacity in the briefing room from 14 people to 50 percent. 

Any media members must be vaccinated or be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the White House complex. 

"We understand this is a significant burden and we are working with the White House to adjust this policy as soon as possible," the WHCA said in their memo. "We now are excited to share the next big step in our plans to safely return to normal press operations at the White House. Additional steps will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead."