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.
“The Bidens hope to continue this tradition in 2022,” Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for the first lady, Jill Biden, said in a statement confirming the cancellation. “The White House plans to send out thousands of the 2021 commemorative Easter Egg Roll eggs in the coming days to vaccination sites and local hospitals. We urge everyone this Easter to continue wearing masks, engage in social distancing and get the vaccine when it is your turn.”
In addition to the risk of coronavirus transmission, there are 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.
Instead, the association has released a 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.
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.”