Friday September 24, 2021

Barack Obama scales back 60th birthday bash over virus variant

AFP
August 05, 2021

NEW YORK: Barack Obama has scaled back plans for a big 60th birthday party this weekend, paring down a guest list of the rich and famous numbering in the hundreds due to the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

"The outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public guidelines and Covid safeguards in place," Hannah Hankins said in a statement issued a day after the planned bash drew criticism, mainly from conservatives.

"Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the president and Mrs Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends," Jenkins said.

The celebration is to take place on Saturday on the upscale island of Martha’s Vineyard, and it had been expected to draw hundreds of former Obama administration officials, Democratic donors and celebrities, reportedly including George Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, according to The Washington Post.

It is to be held outdoors at an oceanside estate in full compliance with guidelines from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, with all guests needing to be vaccinated and test negative for the virus, news reports said. Still, conservatives lashed out at Obama.