DUKES COUNTY, MA – Former President Barack Obama, who recently drew intense backlash after it was announced that he would be hosting hundreds of guests at his Martha’s Vineyard estate for his 60th birthday – and doing so during the national COVID-19 Delta variant surge – has now cancelled the event.
Hannah Hankins, Obama’s spokeswoman, issued a statement Wednesday morning confirming that the Obamas will no longer be holding the mega-bash, but instead will be having a small gathering to celebrate the former president’s birthday.
“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,” Hankins said. “He’s appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”
Following initial news of Obama’s jam-packed shindig – which was reportedly planned to have a total of nearly 700 people in attendance while nearby Cape Cod is in the midst of a Delta surge – the event was roundly criticized for being a potential “public health nightmare.”
Just last week, health officials announced that the infection rate in Martha’s Vineyard was considered “substantial” – meaning over 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over the course of 7 days – and urged people to wear masks when indoors.
The birthday event, which was to have taken place at the Obamas’ $12 million, 30-acre waterfront estate, would have taken place outside and reportedly required guests to submit a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to attend it.
The party was slated to have included celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and George Clooney; all-in-all, 475 guests were slated to attend, along with approximately 200 cooks, servers, and other hired help.