The president’s maskless appearance at the Trump International Hotel this week — in apparent defiance of D.C. coronavirus regulations — caught the attention of local authorities, who inspected the hotel on Wednesday to check for compliance with city rules.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) this spring ordered people to cover their faces while in the lobbies and common areas of hotels and to maintain six feet of distance from others, in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
But President Trump did not wear a mask while greeting GOP congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn on Monday at his downtown Washington hotel, according to video of their interaction. Nor did multiple guests standing near one another in the lobby, the video shows.
ABC News reported Tuesday that guests at Trump properties have repeatedly flouted face-covering mandates. A Facebook invitation for a birthday party scheduled for Saturday at the D.C. hotel featured a “NO MASKS ALLOWED” disclaimer, the network reported. The invitation did not appear to be visible on the social media site Wednesday.
An inspector from the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, which fines businesses with liquor licenses that don’t comply with city regulations, visited the hotel on Wednesday afternoon. Inspectors can issue fines or warnings only for violations that they see in person, and all hotel staff members and visitors during the inspection were wearing masks, ABRA said.
Representatives of the hotel and the Trump Organization did not return requests for comment.
A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee said organizers took precautionary steps before a GOP fundraiser at the hotel on Monday that the president attended, including requiring those present to pass coronavirus tests that day and undergo temperature screenings and wellness questionnaires.
The campaign of Cawthorn, the North Carolina congressional candidate who shared the clip of the president’s maskless appearance at the hotel, did not return requests for comment.
Despite overwhelming support from public health experts, masks have become a political litmus tests of sorts, with many Republicans eschewing them.
As virus cases have spiked in the South and the West, however, a growing number of Republican elected officials have taken to wearing face coverings and calling them necessary.
Trump has recently softened his long-standing resistance and hostility to the use of masks to reduce coronavirus transmission. On Monday, he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask and called it patriotic — hours before he showed up at his hotel without one.
He urged Americans to wear masks the next day, at his first daily virus briefing in months.
We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President! pic.twitter.com/iQOd1whktN— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2020
Bowser has worn a mask in public and urged Washingtonians to cover their faces for the past several months. She expanded her mask mandate Wednesday to include any time outdoors when people are likely to come into contact with others.
Penalties for violating social distancing rules remain rare in the capital, however, with four establishments fined in the past month.
The Trump International Hotel has posted dozens of images on social media with employees wearing masks in recent weeks. The hotel also attempted to open its outside sidewalk cafe, as other restaurants and hotels have done during the pandemic, but closed it again after guests were being bothered by passersby on the street.
The hotel’s compliance with the city’s mask regulations came under scrutiny after Cawthorn shared the video of him meeting Trump on social media.
The clip showed Trump, accompanied by his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), greeting an enthusiastic Cawthorn. Among that group, only Giuliani wore a mask.
Other people visible in the video did cover their faces.
Greg Aselbekian, who was listed on the Facebook invitation as the host of the “NO MASKS ALLOWED” birthday party Saturday at the hotel, did not return requests for comment made through his social media channels.
Correction: Earlier versions of this article said the fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel was held by congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn. The fundraiser was for the Republican Party, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee said.
Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold contributed to this report.
Coronavirus news in D.C., Virginia and Maryland
The latest: More than two years into the pandemic, covid cases in the D.C. region are rising again, , while liberal Montgomery County asks who deserves credit for its robust covid response. Meanwhile, Black funeral directors still face a daunting amount of deaths from covid and the omicron wave has had an unequal toll in the DMV.
At-home tests: Here’s how to use at-home covid tests, where to find them and how they differ from PCR tests.
Mapping the spread: Tens of thousands have died in the local region and nationwide cases number in the hundreds of thousands.
Omicron: Remaining covid restrictions in the D.C.-area, plus a breakdown of variant symptoms and mask recommendations.
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