United States First Lady Melania Trump recently appeared to have violated social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, as she removed her mask while reading a holiday book at Children's National Hospital.

According to a CNN report, the First Lady reached the hospital's atrium with a mask on but removed it once she took her seat in front of a Christmas tree. Her move came despite the hospital policy which clearly states, "Everyone must wear a mask at all times while in any Children's National facility to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask when entering any Children's National building, as mandated by area officials."

"This includes all public places, such as the hallway and cafeteria and wearing a mask at all times when you are around other individuals," the guideline states.

The White House later issued a clarification after the FLOTUS faced backlash on social media for failing to follow social distancing guidelines. A White House readout of the event noted: "Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the event was limited in numbers of in-person participants and all guests were required to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing."

"The visit followed the hospital's mask protocols for public speakers, based on the District of Columbia health guidance, that wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker. Throughout the holiday program, the First Lady was more than twelve feet away from others in the four-story atrium. Today's visit, broadcast to 325 inpatient hospital rooms, followed these guidelines," the clarification read.

Diana Troese, Children's National spokeswoman, also defended Melania saying "wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker."

"In the case of today's visit which was broadcast to our 325 patients, while the First Lady did remove her mask while she read a story, she was more than 12 feet away from others in our large atrium. All other people in that space were wearing masks. The remainder of her visit, she wore a mask," she added.

Melania was lambasted on social media for taking her mask off. The former model and her husband President Donald Trump have previously also been criticised for their casual approach towards face-masks amid a raging pandemic. The couple, along with their son Barron, have been infected with coronavirus in the past.

US First Lady Melania Trump
First Lady Melania Trump Attends the Congressional Spouses Luncheon. Photo: Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks