The Slatest

Trump Campaign Removed Thousands of Social Distancing Stickers Before Tulsa Rally

Trump speaks onstage at a podium. Supporters sit in the arena seats behind him.
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. Win McNamee/Getty Images

As part of their tasks to prepare for President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week, workers at the 19,000-seat BOK Center had stuck thousands of stickers that read “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” on seats across the arena to try to promote social distancing among attendees. Staff had already stuck the notices on almost every other seat in the arena, but before Trump got onstage, the president’s team demanded they stop. Event staff were told by management to continue placing the stickers, but then campaign workers started to remove them. Billboard was first to report the news, later confirmed by the Washington Post, which posted a brief video of the stickers being removed.

The stickers were part of a new safety protocol at the arena. But campaign staff told arena employees that they were not interested. Campaign workers “also told us that they didn’t want any signs posted saying we should social distance in the venue,” Doug Thornton, executive vice president for ASM Global, a company that oversees almost 100 arenas around the world, told Billboard. The demands were part of a trend for the Trump staff, who did not seem particularly keen to follow safety procedures that included wearing masks and practicing social distancing ahead of the event.

Trump’s campaign did not directly respond to questions about the stickers. “The rally was in full compliance with local requirements. In addition, every rally attendee received a temperature check prior to admission, was given a face mask, and provided ample access to hand sanitizer,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in an emailed statement. In another statement the campaign also said that there were in fact “signs posted” and insisted that “we are not aware of any campaign staff asking that they be removed.”

At least eight members of Trump’s campaign team have tested positive for the coronavirus, and many are reportedly in a type of self-imposed quarantine after the rally. Dozens of Secret Service agents were also ordered to go into quarantine after the rally. Every member of Trump’s campaign team who was in Tulsa needs to be tested for the coronavirus before returning to work on Monday. All members of the team who took part in the Tulsa rally “are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test this weekend,” according to an email obtained by ABC News. The campaign has set up a testing site, and all staffers will be tested Sunday, according to the email.

Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies wrote on Twitter Friday that he tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the rally. “I’m pretty surprised,” Monies wrote. “I have zero symptoms (so far) and I feel fine.” Monies said he was in the arena for around six hours, wore a mask, and mostly practiced social distancing.

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