News & Politics

Yes, the White House Is Still Holding Public Tours During the Pandemic

How is this a thing?

Photograph by Alexander Ramjing via iStock.

A brief controversy erupted over the weekend after Enrique Tarrio, a Proud Boy leader in town for the weekend’s pro-Trump march, sent a social-media post that made it look as if he had been invited to the White House. The White House quickly clarified matters: Tarrio, a spokesperson said, was not there for a private audience with the chief executive or any other VIP. Rather, he had gotten tickets for a public Christmas tour.

But that raises another question that may have gotten lost amidst the weekend violence between white-chauvanist marchers and counterprotesters: Is the People’s House really still hosting public tours amid a global pandemic?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is yes.

Smithsonian museums may be shuttered and office workers consigned to Zoom. But the open-door policy is on-brand if you’ve been following 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.’s approach to Covid. After all, events like the Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett have been linked to virus outbreaks and the Trump administration is planning to celebrate the upcoming holidays with a series of gatherings.

According to Melania Trump’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham, masks are required on tours and hand sanitizer is stationed throughout the State Floor.

“Participating in the tours is a very personal choice,” Grisham says. “It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic decor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations.”

For those who wish to make that very personal choice, White House excursions are booked through members of Congress. Constituents may submit a tour request anywhere from three month to 21 days in advance of the desired visit, and most tours take place on Fridays and Saturdays.

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in NoMa.