Apr 28, 2022 - News

Correspondents' dinner COVID precautions don't apply to all

Guests attend the 2019 WHCA Dinner.
Guests attend the 2019 WHCA Dinner. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ dinner will have some of the strictest COVID requirements for attendees of major D.C. events, but the safety plan doesn’t extend to staff working the event at the Washington Hilton, the venue for the soirée.

Why it matters: An estimated 2,600 attendees are expected at the dinner, which returns as COVID jitters resurface amid local case increases and an outbreak among official Washington after the recent Gridiron dinner.

  • Anthony Fauci announced on Tuesday that he would no longer attend the correspondents’ dinner, citing an assessment of his own COVID risk.

What’s happening: The correspondents’ association bolstered the dinner’s entry requirements earlier this month. All guests must show proof of vaccination and a negative same-day test. But the communications director for Unite Here Local 25, the union representing the Washington Hilton’s hospitality workers, tells Axios that the hotel hasn’t approached the union about testing or vaccination requirements for staff working the event.

  • Benjy Cannon says if the Hilton asks for those measures, the union could “bargain over the issue.” Cannon also noted that the union has agreed to one-off COVID-related work rules with other hotels for specific events.
  • The union has advocated for workers to get vaccinated and supported employer vaccination mandates.

Axios has learned that the correspondents' association was assured that the Hilton would require its staff to be masked.​​

What they’re saying: A spokesperson for the Hilton declined to answer questions about the event and the vaccination status of its staff.

  • “Throughout the pandemic, Washington Hilton has hosted a number of large-scale events with COVID-19 protocols in place, including offering our team members the flexibility to choose if they work in large group settings, based on their comfort level," the spokesperson tells Axios.
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