Former President Barack Obama is "significantly" scaling back his 60th birthday bash for this weekend on Martha’s Vineyard.
Hundreds of guests were expected to attend, including many Hollywood stars, Obama administration officials and Democratic donors. Some invitees had already arrived on the island, the New York Times reported, days after President Joe Biden admitted that the pandemic has resurged.
But recent trends led to a last-minute change of plans.
"Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends. President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon," Hannah Hankins, a spokesperson for Obama, said in a statement to NBC News Wednesday morning.
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The change also comes after internal documents surfaced from within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows the delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and may be more dangerous than other versions. U.S. health officials are now considering changing advice on how the nation fights the coronavirus.
Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday called the gathering a bad idea as coronavirus cases continue to rise. Baker was asked about reports that the 44th president was planning to host a 60th birthday party for himself with nearly 700 guests and staff at his family's property on Martha's Vineyard.
The party was supposed to be held outdoors and in accordance with public health guidelines, according to Hankins. All invitees were reportedly being required to present negative COVID tests before being allowed in.
Baker said he wasn't invited to Obama's birthday party, "but I can tell you that if I were invited I would have declined because I think 700 people at an event like that is not a good idea."
People on the island had a wide variety of opinions.
"I'm here for the big birthday celebration," said tourist Theresa Houston. "I didn't get an invitation, but that's OK, looks can get you into a lot of places."
"I guess there's going to be some pretty funky people coming in," said visitor Candance Ginter. "And it's just another week on the island, you know."
"I think they're pretty smart people," said Nancy Rosenthal, who owns a home on the Vineyard. "They'll figure out how to do it safely."
"I think he has to take precautions, of course," said tourist Angela Davis. "I heard he scaled it back a bit, so I'm glad he did that."
"I don't think you can scale back a party like a couple days before it's happening," said Wayne George, who owns a home on the island. "I think he'd been pressured politically probably to say that."
Obama's actual birthday is today, Aug. 4.