State Department Planning at Least 3 Holiday Parties That Violate D.C.'s COVID Guidelines

As the United States record a continued surge in coronavirus cases, the State Department reportedly planned at least three holiday parties in the upcoming weeks.

With guest lists of more than a hundred people, the parties would violate Washington D.C. coronavirus restrictions on indoor gatherings.

The first party, scheduled for December 15, will be hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, according to a copy of the invitation reported on Thursday by The Washington Post.

The party, called "Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays" will be held in the Benjamin Franklin Room, a 4,700-square-foot reception space at the State Department. The invitations have reportedly been sent to over 900 people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends guests stand at least six feet away from others while outside the household, especially at indoor gatherings. Approximately 23 people can properly socially distance in space that size, according to the social distancing calculator powered by Calconic.

"We plan to fully enforce social distancing measures at this reception, and face coverings are mandatory for admittance," a State Department spokesperson told the Post.

"All proper food and beverage safety precautions will be taken by catering services and staff–all will wear gloves and masks and any food or beverage will be served individually," the spokesperson continued.

The White House Previews Decor For The
The White House Previews Decor For The Holiday Season The State Department reportedly has at least three holiday parties planned this year. Christmas decorations shown above are in the East Room at the White House December 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images/Getty

The attendees will be required to have their temperature checked upon arrival. The State Department also plan to distribute hand sanitizer towers throughout the space.

It remained unclear how the State Department intend to enforce mask-wearing among guests while they were eating and drinking.

The second gathering, scheduled for December 16, will be a reception for the Washington Diplomatic Corps., also hosted by Pompeo. Nearly 180 foreign ambassadors, who are allowed to bring spouses to the event, have reportedly received invitations.

"Attendance is optional based on the comfort of each chief of mission," a State Department spokesperson told the Post.

The spokesperson also noted that the event will be "broken into two separate receptions to minimize the number of guests in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at one time.

"We're going to continue hosting guests here at the State Department to have people have serious conversations about American foreign policy benefitting the people of the United States of America," Pompeo said during a September interview with Fox News.

The secretary of state also dismissed the lack of masks at events held on government property.

"We will comply with every instruction from the State Department medical team," Pompeo continued. "We'll be safe and we'll have a great set of meetings and conversations."

The third event, hosted by the department's chief of protocol Cam Henderson, is also for the Washington Diplomatic Corps, their spouses and children. The gathering is scheduled to include a tour of the White House and Blair House, the president's guesthouse managed by the State Department.

In years' past, the tours were followed by a reception, but the spokesperson told the Post "there is no reception planned" this year.

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 10 people on November 23. The State Department's parties would be a direct violation of the mayor's directive.

President Donald Trump has reportedly scheduled a series of holiday parties as well. However, the Post said that those events have a smaller guest list.

The State Department didn't respond to Newsweek's request for comment in time for publication.