Donald Trump’s campaign workers have been filmed removing stickers advising attendees of a rally where they should sit to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers were removed from seating inside the Bank of Oklahoma Centre before the the US president’s planned event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, The Washington Post reported.
Staff at the centre reportedly purchased 12,000 of the stickers and attached them to every other seat so there would be space kept between attendees.
In the hours before the rally went ahead, members of the Trump campaign were filmed removing the stickers.
Two people were shown in footage shared by the US newspaper appearing to remove the stickers however it was unclear if all 12,000 were taken off before the event.
When Mr Trump took the stage on Saturday evening (local time), members of the crowd were reportedly seen clustered within close proximity of each other in clear breach of social-distancing guidelines.
The venue management company in charge of organising the event, ASM Global, said it received direction from Mr Trump’s campaign that they didn’t want social-distancing stickers on the seats.
“They also told us that they didn’t want any signs posted saying we should social distance in the venue. The campaign went through and removed the stickers,” executive vice president of ASM Global Doug Thornton told Billboard Magazine.
A Trump campaign spokesman said he was not aware of social-distancing stickers or posters being removed, and insisted all coronavirus protocols were followed.
“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 sanitiser,” Tim Murtaug said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.
“There were signs posted and we are not aware of any campaign staff asking that they be removed.”
Washington Post: The Trump campaign removed thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” social distancing stickers before his poorly attended Tulsa rally.— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 27, 2020
The removal violated specific instructions from the BOK Center.
Local health officials recommended the event be postponed due to the prospect of coronavirus being transmitted by attendees.
Six of Mr Trump’s campaign staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, the day of the rally, and another two have tested positive since.
“These staff members attended the rally, but were wearing masks during the entire event,” Mr Murtaug said.
Most people at the rally did not wear masks. With there reportedly being thousands of empty seats at the event which Mr Trump claimed had more demand than available tickets.
Record coronavirus numbers in the US
The US has confirmed more than 2.5 million coronavirus cases across the country.
There are also at least 125,435 deaths attributed to the new virus, more than in any other country, according to a tally released by Johns Hopkins University on Saturday.
The surge in cases is most notable across the southern and western states, where many of the states had less stringent lockdown measures. California, the most populous state, which did institute severe coronavirus closures, also saw record cases this week.
The country broke its single-day new infections record repeatedly this week, with well over 39,000 new reported cases on Thursday.
As populous states including Florida and Texas recorded surging case numbers this week, state officials tightened restrictions on business again.
The decision to reimpose restrictions by Florida and Texas is a backtrack for the state's governors - both Republican allies of President Donald Trump - who have resisted lockdown measures.
On Saturday, Florida reported more than 9500 new cases, up from almost 9000 on Friday, the previous record.
With Reuters and AAP
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.