Virginia lawmakers to meet in unusual circumstances during pandemic, including a protest

Virginia lawmakers to meet in unusual circumstances during pandemic, including a protest
House Delegates plan to meet under a canopy outside the Capitol while the Senate is meeting at a giant event space at the Virginia Science Museum a couple of miles away. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/AP) - Virginia lawmakers are set to hold a one-day legislative session unlike any other in the state’s 400-year history as they grapple with how to handle the fallout of the coronavirus.

Both chambers have made alternative plans to meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Delegates plan to meet under a canopy outside the Capitol while the Senate is meeting at a giant event space at the Virginia Science Museum a couple of miles away.

According to the Senate’s clerk, legislators will be ten feet apart with individual work stations where they can speak publicly and vote. They have also been asked to wear masks instead of germ-carrying ties to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Legislators have been asked to skip wearing germ-spreading ties and to instead don face masks while meeting in the tents.
Legislators have been asked to skip wearing germ-spreading ties and to instead don face masks while meeting in the tents. (Source: NBC12)

Neither area is open to the public.

Starting at 12 p.m. on April 22, both bodies will have to review amendments from Governor Ralph Northam on 1,291 pieces of legislation, as well as budget amendments.

Governor Northam has proposed delaying some measures until more is clear on the coronavirus’s financial impact on the budget, including teacher and state worker raises, boosting the minimum wage and freezing in-state college tuition.

All of this will happen as protesters are also set to descend on downtown Richmond to protest the governor’s extended closure of non-essential businesses.

The demonstration will include cars and protestors circling Capitol Square, urging the governor to reopen the Commonwealth.

Capitol Square will also be closed to the public all day and into the morning of April 23.

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