Given the continuing rise in coronavirus cases in the United States, the State Department has reportedly planned at least three vacation parties in the coming weeks.
The parties, with guest lists of more than a hundred people, would violate Washington D.C.’s coronavirus restrictions on indoor meetings.
Scheduled for December 15, the first party will be hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, according to a copy of the invitation, which the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The party, entitled “Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays,” will be held in the Benjamin Franklin Room, a 4,700-square-foot reception room at the State Department. The invitations were reportedly sent to over 900 people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that guests stand at least two meters away from other people when they are outside the home, especially during closed-door meetings. According to Calconic’s Social Distance Calculator, about 23 people can maintain socially appropriate distance in such a large room.
“We plan to fully enforce social distancing measures at this reception, and face coverings are mandatory for admission,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Post Office.
“All reasonable precautions for the safety of food and beverages will be taken by the catering service and staff – everyone will wear gloves and masks, and all food and beverages will be served individually,” the spokesman continued.
Participants must have their temperature checked upon arrival. The Foreign Ministry also plans to distribute hand disinfection towers throughout the room.
It remained unclear how the Foreign Ministry intends to enforce the wearing of masks among the guests while eating and drinking.
The second meeting, 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.
“Participation is voluntary and depends on the comfort of each head of mission,” a State Department spokesman told the Post Office.
The spokesman also pointed out that the event “will be split into two separate receptions to minimize the number of guests in the diplomatic reception rooms.
“We will continue to receive guests here at the State Department so that people can have serious discussions about American foreign policy that benefits the people of the United States of America,” Pompeo told Fox News in a September interview.
The Secretary of State also denied the absence of masks at events on government property.
“We will follow every instruction of the State Department medical team,” Pompeo continued. “We will be safe, and we will have a great series of meetings and discussions.
The third event, hosted by State Department Protocol Chief Cam Henderson, is also for the Washington diplomatic corps, their spouses and children. The event will include a tour of the White House and Blair House, the President’s guest house managed by the State Department.
In previous years, a reception was held after the tours, but the speaker told the Post Office that “no reception is planned this year.
The mayor of Washington D.C., Muriel E. Bowser, announced on November 23 that she would ban gatherings in closed rooms with more than 10 people. The State Department parties would be in direct violation of the mayor’s directive.
President Donald Trump has reportedly also planned a series of holiday parties. However, the Postal Service announced that these events have a smaller guest list.
The State Department did not respond in time for publication to Washington Newsday’s request for comment.