Large crowds gather at White House for Trump RNC speech — COVID tests, masks not required

An audience of about 1,000 is expected to watch the president's speech from the South Lawn of the White House.
Guests gather to watch President Donald Trump deliver his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 27, 2020.
Guests gather to watch President Donald Trump deliver his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 27, 2020.
/ Source: TODAY
By Maura Hohman

Ahead of President Donald Trump's speech on the final night of the Republican National Convention, a large crowd gathered on the South Lawn of the White House.

The speech is expected to have an audience of more than 1,000 people, NBC News reported, including GOP lawmakers, delegates, friends, family and donors from all over the country, some of whom have flown to be there.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told NBC News Thursday that "a number of" GOP convention guests at the White House tonight will have been tested for COVID-19 but that "you make choices individually."

"I think it's a pretty safe environment, given the circumstances," Meadows said. "I'm not worried about that based on the protocols that we have in place."

The campaign told NBC News that "proper protocols are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals at convention venues," adding that "certain screening" has been done consistently, but the campaign did not cite specifics on testing.

According to NBC News, chairs set up on the lawn ahead of the speech were less than 6 feet apart — which does not follow local social distancing guidelines — and Thursday's speech appears to be the largest non-socially-distanced White House event in the COVID-19 era.

Masks also were not required.

In his speech, President Trump is expected to attack Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, NBC News reported.

“At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas," Trump is expected to say, according to excerpts of the speech from his campaign.

“We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years. At the Democrat convention, you barely heard a word about their agenda. But that's not because they don't have one. It's because their agenda is the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee."

Hallie Jackson and Winston Wilde contributed.