The traditional St. Patrick's reception at the White House has been canceled due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 1952 the traditional presentation of a bowl of shamrock, from an Irish leader to the United States President has taken place during the festivities for St. Patrick's Day. This year the Coronavirus has put a stop to this as the St. Patrick's reception was omitted from President Donald Trump's Thursday, March 12, schedule.
This news came following Trump's announcement that the United States has suspended all travel to and from Europe - excluding Ireland and the United Kingdom - for 30 days, starting on Friday, March 13.
Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrived in Washington DC on Wednesday - a day later than planned having skipped the New York leg of his trip. Varadkar remained in Ireland to address the Coronavirus outbreak in Ireland.
He spoke at the Ireland Funds Gala Dinner, on Wednesday, at the National Building Museum, in Washington. According to BreakingNews.ie he left the event before speaking to the media.
While the White House reception and traditional public presentation of the shamrock will not go ahead Varadkar is set to visit the White House on Thursday morning to meet with President Trump for an "extended bilateral" discussion.
Ahead of his St. Patrick's Day trip Varadkar issued the following statement:
"I will use my meetings with President Trump and other senior US politicians to emphasize the strength and importance of Irish-US bilateral relations, particularly our economic ties. I intend to discuss issues including EU-UK relations, Northern Ireland and the US role in protecting the Good Friday Agreement.
"There was positive news this week in relation to the legislation to expand the E3 Visa program, and I look forward to getting an update on how we can resolve the situation facing the undocumented Irish in America. This is a relationship that cannot be taken for granted and I intend to use my visit to Washington DC to deepen these ties, while also promoting EU-US relations."