Add the White House Easter Egg Roll to the list of yearly traditions canceled — once again — by the pandemic.
The event was canceled for the second year in a row over concerns about large gatherings. President Biden’s cautious benchmark — small gatherings by July 4, if Americans keep to social distancing protocols and receive vaccines when they are offered — comes well after the Easter holiday and nowhere near the usual capacity for the egg roll, which draws up to 30,000 people to the White House grounds.
There are also fewer people in place to organize and host the event. Dozens of White House officials are working remotely, adhering to strict coronavirus protocols as the pandemic continues.
Anita McBride, a board member of the White House Historical Association, said the White House “generally still doesn’t have a full complement of staff” coming into the building. She added that there would be “no in-person activities” for the egg roll this year.
virtual egg hunt. Commemorative wooden eggs — featuring the White House dogs, Champ and Major, and an Easter bunny wearing a protective mask — are also for sale.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. Last year, Melania Trump, the former first lady, called the decision to cancel the egg roll “difficult” but necessary.
“The health and safety of all Americans must be the first priority, especially right now,” Mrs. Trump said in a statement issued by the White House last March. “I deeply regret this cancellation, but we need to make difficult decisions in the short term to ensure a healthy country for the long term.”
The White House Easter Egg Roll dates back to 1878 and has only been canceled a handful of times. In 1918, it was canceled because of food shortages and concerns over the spread of a deadly flu.