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Former US president Barack Obama is gearing up to celebrate his 60th birthday in style, with hundreds of guests reportedly invited to a mansion he owns on an island in Massachusetts, despite ongoing concerns over large events during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Obama has confirmed 475 guests, including friends, family, former aides and several celebrities, according to a source cited by news website Axios.
This does not include the 200-plus staff who will be working to manage the party on Martha’s Vineyard island, the source said.
Mr Obama purchased the 7,000-foot mansion set on nearly 30 acres for approximately $11.75 million in 2019.
Guests will have to be tested for Covid-19, although there were no specific details on how this would be carried out in US media reports.
“It’s going to be big,” one source told The Hill.
News of the party comes as there is rising concern – both nationally and locally – over the rising number of Delta variant coronavirus cases in the country.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised its mask-wearing guidelines and pointed to new data in an internal document last week that said the Delta variant spreads as quickly as chickenpox, even among those vaccinated.
Several breakthrough cases in Provincetown, Massachusetts – near Martha’s Vineyard – had been reported after the 4 July holidays, pointing to the risk of the virus spreading through vaccinated people.
“If you’re talking about a small party like I might have at my house for six or eight people who are all fully vaccinated, I do not believe, at this point, we need to put masks on to be next to each other,” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN on Sunday.
“But if there were 100 people... and of course, how are you really going to be sure about people’s vaccination status?” he added.
Mr Obama is not a stranger to larger-than-life celebrations for landmark events, including birthdays. He invited rapper-tycoon Jay-Z, musician Stevie Wonder and veteran Hollywood actor Tom Hanks when he turned 50 at the White House in 2011.
Mr Obama will turn 60 on 4 August. Several A-listers will reportedly be attending his birthday celebration this time as well.
Guests including two-time Oscar winning actor George Clooney and celebrity talk show host Oprah Winfrey have received invites, according to several reports, while rock band Pearl Jam has reportedly been hired to perform at the event.
Current president Joe Biden will not be among those attending the celebration, however, a White House spokesperson told Axios. The spokesperson said he would otherwise catch up with the Obamas “soon”.