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White House briefing room returns to full capacity as pandemic improves

With the briefing room at 100 percent capacity, all 49 seats will be made available to reporters.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki answers questions during the daily briefing on May 24, 2021, in Washington.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki at the daily briefing on May 24.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The White House briefing room will return to full capacity Monday after the pandemic led to limited seating for reporters over the last year, the White House Correspondents’ Association announced Sunday.

With falling infection rates across the country fueled by the push to vaccinate Americans, the return to normalcy at the White House is another sign that the pandemic is nearly over.

The correspondents’ association also announced that press capacity limits on general White House grounds for both indoors and outdoors would be lifted on Monday.

Meanwhile, the White House mask policy remains in effect in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is that fully vaccinated people can remove their masks while those who are unvaccinated or within two weeks of their final shot should remain masked.

The updates come as the White House returns to normal operations as Covid-19 case counts continue to drop across the country. According to the CDC, nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. have received at least their first dose and more than half of adults are fully vaccinated.

Capacity in the press room was increased to 50 percent, or 24 seats, on May 24. With the briefing room at 100 percent capacity, all 49 seats will be made available to reporters for the first time in more than a year.

The White House imposed severe limits on capacity on March 16, 2020, when the pandemic caused the country to shut down. White House press secretary Jen Psaki resumed holding daily press briefings after her predecessors in the Trump White House opted to abandon them.