White House scales back temperature checks

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Workers from the White House Physician’s Office check the body temperatures of journalists in the press briefing room at the White House on March 17, 2020, in Washington, DC. The Trump administration is considering an $850 billion stimulus package to counter the economic fallout as the coronavirus spreads. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Visitors are able to enter the White House complex without having their temperatures checked for the first time since mid-March, although several other coronavirus precautions remain in place.

Those who come near the president will still undergo temperature checks and testing for the virus.

Over the past three months, those seeking to access the White House complex first had to get their temperatures checked and answer a question about whether they had experienced any symptoms associated with COVID-19. The White House said Monday it was scaling back complex-wide temperature checks as the District of Columbia enters Phase 2 in its reopening.

“In addition to social distancing, hand sanitizer, regular deep cleaning of all work spaces, and voluntary facial coverings, every staff member and guest in close proximity to the president and vice president is still being temperature checked, asked symptom histories, and tested for COVID-19,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere.

Those same precautions will also continue to apply to the press pool covering the president’s activities, Judd added.

The White House Correspondents’ Association told members Monday that restrictions on attendance for covering press briefings and other events within the complex will remain in effect to allow for social distancing. It also asked members to continue working from home when possible and to come to the White House only when necessary and to continue to wear face coverings.

The White House was a late adopter of many of the safety proposals it recommended for the nation, eager to project a sense of normalcy even as it relied on strong testing capacity not available to the rest of the nation.

The White House had instructed West Wing employees to wear a mask except when they were sitting at their desks. But press secretary Kayleigh McEnany indicated last week that the policy had been relaxed at some point, saying “masks are recommended but not required” for West Wing staff.

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