WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday began easing up on restrictions that have been in place since Washington officials instituted a stay-at-home order in the city in March in response to the coronavirus.
Temperature checks for visitors to the complex will be scaled back, allowing many White House staff members who have been teleworking to return to their offices, and the cafeteria in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, across the street from the West Wing, will be reopened. But assuring that President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will not be exposed to the virus by visitors will remain a priority.
“Every staff member and guest in close proximity to the president and vice president is still being temperature-checked, asked symptom histories and tested for Covid-19,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.
Mr. Deere said that White House officials would continue to practice social distancing, use hand sanitizer and wear face masks on a voluntary basis, and that the work spaces would continue to be deep cleaned regularly.
In announcing the new guidelines, the White House followed the lead of the city of Washington, which began the second phase of its reopening on Monday, allowing restaurants and gyms, among other establishments, to fully open for business with capacity limits. But they also reflected Mr. Trump’s continued emphasis on returning to normal, days after he staged a “comeback” rally in Tulsa, Okla., where he tried to pack an indoor arena with 19,000 people.
The smaller crowd that showed up — fewer than 6,200, according to the Fire Department — reflected the fear of the virus even among Trump supporters as the number of cases in that city and state are still on the rise.
But Mr. Trump has been eager to project a message that the worst of the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.
Phasing out temperature checks, officials said, was done in part because staff members who have been teleworking since the beginning of the pandemic are beginning to return to work in the White House complex. As more people return, they said, checking everyone who entered the gates would create long delays getting in.
A spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget did not immediately say when staffing levels in the White House complex would return to pre-pandemic levels, but an official said the goal was to have everyone back later in the summer.
Last month, the coronavirus breached the White House gates when two staff members who are regularly in close contact with the president and the vice president — a personal valet to Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s communications director, Katie Miller — tested positive.
After that scare, staff members who interacted closely with the president began receiving daily coronavirus tests. Mr. Pence and Mr. Trump also began getting daily tests, and will continue to do so, Mr. Deere said.
Under the terms of Washington’s second phase of reopening, gyms are allowed to hold socially distanced workouts and churches can host as many as 100 worshipers. Restaurants and “nonessential” stores are allowed to welcome diners and customers at half-capacity. Nail salons and tattoo parlors are also allowed to book clients.
As of Monday, Washington had 10,058 coronavirus cases and 535 deaths, according to the city’s health department. It had conducted a total of 82,004 coronavirus tests, and 64,071 of those were on city residents.
Noah Weiland contributed reporting.