President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are preparing to celebrate Easter from a safe, socially distant approach as most of the country observes shelter-in-place orders to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Trump started the holiday weekend with a White House briefing Friday, where Trump said he would use a laptop to watch a service led by Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 4,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas and a Fox News contributor.
Pence told Americans to continue following the coronavirus mitigation guidelines and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, including religious services.
"We know it's difficult in this time of year, particularly, Mr. President, to avoid gatherings of more than 10. But we're grateful that so many churches, synagogues, and places of worship have done just that, and we urge you to continue to do it," Pence said.
Pence said earlier in the week he would attend the virtual services of their Indiana church from "right in the living room at the Vice President's (residence), where we have been attending for the last several weeks."
In an interview with CBN News, Pence said the service would be followed by "a Skype Easter brunch with our kids around the country."
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It marks the first year of his presidency that Trump has remained in Washington for Easter weekend rather than traveling to his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. For the past three years, the president and his family have attended services at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, an Episcopal church near the president’s resort.
The Trumps were married in the church in 2005.
The White House this year canceled the annual Easter egg roll, one of the oldest traditions in White House history. The event, which began in 1878, was previously canceled or moved off the White House grounds because of World War I and World War II, according to the White House Historical Association.
The first lady's office told the Associated Press it would instead give away 25,000 wooden Easter eggs to children's hospitals in the Washington, D.C. area, federal agencies, aid groups and grocery stores as a "small token of appreciation."
Asked Friday asked about pastors who were defying social distancing orders to hold in-person services, Trump told reporters, "Most of the pastors agree that they are better off doing what they're doing, which is distancing. They feel that, 'Let's get this over with,' and they want to get back to church so badly."
Jeffress, whose service Trump plans to attend remotely, initially continued to hold an in-person service option of fewer than 500 people, though he later reversed course and told his followers to join online.
Contributing: John Fritze, Maureen Groppe