(RepublicanInformer.com)- For the first time in more than a year, the press briefing room at the White House will re-open to 100% capacity this week.
On Monday, full capacity will be allowed at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. The seating chart that the White House Correspondents Association had before the pandemic began will be back into effect.
The association will re-assess the permanent seating assignments of their members later this year, officials said.
In a memo they sent on Sunday to reporters, the association said:
“Since the onset of the pandemic, our priority has been to keep journalists safe, while ensuring that the critical work of informing the public could continue uninterrupted. We appreciate the sacrifices made by every member of the press corps, and we thank you all for your cooperation over the last 15 months.”
The association has 500 journalists who are members, and according to a recent survey, 98% of them reported they were fully vaccinated. That means that nearly all of the journalists who are members of the organization are at least two weeks removed since their second dose of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or from the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Also on Monday, the capacity limitations that have been in place on the grounds of the White House will be lifted. This includes limits that were placed on indoor workspaces for press members and on the North Lawn. All of the assignments for desks will return to where they were before the pandemic began.
A few weeks ago, the White House said it was making preparations for a return to this full capacity. At a press conference on May 21, the White House’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said:
“I can confirm we are a warm and fuzzy crew and we like to hug around here, but we were waiting for that to be allowed by CDC guidelines, which we certainly abide by. We are, as many organizations and companies are, working to implement these guidelines here at the White House so what you’ve seen over the last couple of days is efforts to do exactly that, and that includes welcoming back and having a full briefing room very soon.”
Only a few days after that press conference, the White House increased capacity to 50% for the press briefing room. Previously, attendance was limited to only 14 people.
One thing the White House is doing, though, is requiring all members of the media to be vaccinated before they enter the White House complex. Any media members who don’t want to get vaccinated would need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test in lieu of the vaccine to enter the grounds.
As the association said to its members in this weekend’s memo:
“We understand this is a significant burden and we are working with the White House to adjust this policy as soon as possible. We are now excited to share the next big step in our plans to safely return to normal press operations at the White House. Additional steps will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.”