The White House has defended senior adviser Ivanka Trump and her family’s visit to New Jersey to celebrate Jewish pilgrimage festival Passover despite government’s guidelines against discretionary travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that “it was not commercial,” according to media reports.
Ivanka, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, travelled with her husband and fellow administration adviser Jared Kushner and their three children to the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey earlier this month to celebrate the first night of the week-long festival Passover that was on April 8, The New York Times reported.
Passover is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday. It is a celebration of spring, of birth and rebirth, of a journey from slavery to freedom, and of taking responsibility for yourself, the community, and the world. The Jews observe Passover for seven days, beginning on the 15th of the Jewish month Nisan (usually in April).
Starting April 1, the city of Washington had issued a stay-at-home order for all residents unless they are performing essential activities.
New Jersey too is under a stay-at-home order.
Last month, the US president extended the social distancing measures in the country till April 30. Many states and local governments already have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings.
The report said that while Kushner returned to the White House, Ivanka continues to work from Bedminster, taking calls and spending time there with her children.
Defending Ivanka’s travel to the golf club, which is currently closed, the White House said it was “no different than had she been travelling to/from work,” the USATODAY media publication said in its report on Thursday. “Ivanka, with her immediate family, celebrated Passover at a closed down facility considered to be a family home,” the report said, quoting a White House statement.
“The location was less populated than the surrounding area near her home in D.C,” it said.
However, Ivanka’s travel at a time when social distancing guidelines are in place faced flak as she herself has been advocating the measures to contain the spread of the disease in the country.
“Those lucky enough to be in a position to stay at home, please, please do so”, Ivanka said in a video she posted on her Twitter account on March 30. “Each and every one of us plays a role in slowing the spread”, she had said.
Philip Rucker, the White House bureau chief for The Washington Post, on Thursday tweeted, “Federal guidelines against discretionary travel and DC’s stay at home order apparently don’t apply if you’re Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner.”
“Sure, Ivanka Trump could have stayed in DC as federal guidelines advised, but why do that when you can make a promotional appearance at one of your father’s properties multiple states away?” Watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington was quoted as saying by the USATODAY.
The US witnessed a record number of 4,591 deaths in the last 24 hours due to the coronavirus.
According to the Johns Hopkins University data, the virus has infected over 671,000 people and claimed more than 33,000 lives, the highest for any country in the world.
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