Great Britain

‘Outdoors and in a moderate zone’: Psaki defends Obama’s birthday party feared as Covid risk

White House’s press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday defended the 60th “outdoors” birthday party of Barack Obama amid rising concerns over Covid-19 risks.

“I would note, first, that former President Obama has been a huge advocate of individuals getting vaccinated … what CDC has provided guidance on is for indoor settings in high or substantial high zones of COVID cases,” said Ms Psaki during a press briefing on Tuesday.

When asked if the former US president is setting the wrong example about how serious Covid-19 is by hosting a big birthday party with hundreds of people this week, she said the event “according to all the public reporting, is outdoors and in a moderate zone.”

“But in addition, there is testing requirements and other steps they are taking, which I’m sure they can outline for you in more detail,” said Ms Psaki, who also served in the White House during the Obama administration.

She recommended journalists to the team of her former boss for “more specifics” of what protocols are in place for the event.

The former president, who turns 60 on 4 August, is hosting a big bash with hundreds of guests reportedly invited to Martha’s Vineyard island in Massachusetts despite ongoing concerns over large events during the pandemic.

Mr Obama has confirmed 475 guests, including friends, family, former aides and several celebrities, and there will be 200-plus staff to manage the party. According to reports, guests will have to be tested for Covid-19 even as the specific details about it are not clear.

Meanwhile, on a query that Mr Obama’s birthday party might become a super-spreader event, Ms Psaki said: “The guidance is about what steps people can take when they’re in public settings — indoor settings, specifically, was the new guidance — to keep themselves and others safe.”

The White House’s press secretary was also asked if the former president hosting a party with several hundred people can prompt others to follow the same.

“Well, we certainly advise everyone to follow public health guidelines, which I know the former president, who is a huge advocate of getting vaccinated, of following the guidance of public health experts, would certainly advocate for himself as well,” she said.

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