The Republican Party (GOP) has moved to significantly restrict the number of attendees at its national convention in Jacksonville, Florida in August as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the state.
The convention had been moved to Florida, which on Sunday recorded the highest number of daily new cases of any US state since the pandemic began, after local officials in Charlotte, North Carolina had ruled out a full-capacity crowd if the convention were to be held there.
To date, Florida has reported at least 301,800 infections and 4,521 deaths. Jacksonville, in recent weeks, has instituted a face-covering mandate, while the state government has limited gatherings to 50 percent of a venue’s capacity.
“When we made these changes, we had hoped to be able to plan a traditional convention celebration to which we are all accustomed,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in a letter to RNC members.
“However, adjustments must be made to comply with state and local health guidelines,” she said.
Under the restrictions, only the roughly 2,500 regular delegates to the convention would be permitted to attend the opening three nights.
However, delegates, their guests and alternate delegates would be permitted to attend the final night, August 27, when President Donald Trump is set to deliver his acceptance speech.
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The RNC was still working to determine a programming lineup for the event. McDaniel said the convention was planning to use both indoor and outdoor spaces.
GOP officials familiar with the planning told the Associated Press news agency that the final night of events was expected to take place outdoors to accommodate the largest crowd possible.
The GOP will be providing on-site temperature checks and face coverings, and will have COVID-19 testing available for attendees.
“We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his renomination for a second term – while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner,” McDaniel wrote.
Meanwhile, the formal business of the renominating Trump is still set to take place in Charlotte, but with a far smaller group of delegates casting proxy votes.