White House coronavirus press briefings get social distancing rules

The White House Correspondents Association implemented a new seating chart for press briefings Monday to help combat the coronavirus with social distancing.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has been offering regular press conference inside the notoriously cramped James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have appeared regularly to take questions from reporters – but those reporters have now been asked to spread out.

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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: Seats in the White House press briefing room are marked with warnings to maintain social distancing March 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: Seats in the White House press briefing room are marked with warnings to maintain social distancing March 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Every other seat will now be empty for the foreseeable future and a temporary seating chart was distributed.

"We understand these restrictions are deeply disruptive to our members and their ability to do their jobs. But we are forced to take these steps to do our part to ensure that there is a healthy pool available to cover the president and inform the public during this critical time," WHCA President Jon Karl said in a statement to The Hill.

The WHCA did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.

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The changes are expected to reduce the numbers of reporters in the room.

“Members of the press who do not have a seat on the updated seating chart or who do not participate in the President’s In-House Pool will not be permitted access to the White House Complex,” Stephanie Grisham said.

Various White House reporters tweeted images on Monday of yellow signs that have been placed on seats that warn, “To ensure social distancing this seat is to remain unoccupied for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.”

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