Barack Obama canceled his 60th birthday party after backlash and concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
The former U.S. president and his wife Michelle planned to host over 400 guests at their Martha’s Vineyard estate.
According to the Insider, Hannah Hankins, a spokesperson for Obama, confirmed the event changed to a smaller one on Wednesday morning.
“This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with COVID safeguards in place,” Hankins said. “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.”
“He’s appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”
The Obamas were set to have a 475-person guest list, including big names such as Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney. An additional two hundred staff members were also scheduled to attend.
Prior to the cancellation, there were some health and safety protocols in place for the large party.
According to USA TODAY, a source unauthorized to speak with the public said guests were required to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public health safety measures, including a testing regiment managed by a COVID-19 coordinator.
Axios reported all guests were asked to be vaccinated. According to the outlet, guests were also required to submit negative test results to the COVID-19 coordinator within a certain time window before the event.
Some guests, like President Joe Biden, were already reported as not attending before the gathering was scaled back.
In a statement to Axios, a White House spokesperson stated: “While President Biden is unable to attend this weekend, he looks forward to catching up with former President Obama soon and properly welcoming him into the over-sixty club.”