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Democratic National Convention to require masks, distancing

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Everyone attending the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee next month will have to wear a face mask, consent to daily testing for COVID-19, fill out questionnaires and maintain their distance from others.

Organizers of the convention released details of the coronavirus safety plan Monday, three weeks before the start of the four-day event on Aug. 17. The convention has been scaled down from original plans and now will be mostly online, with only a few hundred people gathered at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.

Those in attendance will have to isolate themselves for a minimum of 72 hours before departing for Milwaukee or, if they’re already in the city, when they first enter the convention’s main venue. Once at the convention, they’ll have to fill out a daily questionnaire attesting that they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have not had contact with anyone who is infected.

All convention guests, law enforcement, media, and staff must agree to daily COVID-19 testing, either at the Wisconsin Center or another offsite location. They must also agree to follow any other “reasonable restrictions that convention organizers may impose based on changing health conditions.”

Although the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and everyone else will be required to wear a mask once inside, anyone making a speech will be allowed to remove his or hers. The podium will be 20 feet from other people. Organizers are also encouraging those in attendance to wear a face shield or goggles to protect their eyes.

Organizers are also recommending that they “avoid bars, restaurants, and other locations where social distancing is not possible or not practiced.”

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved with the convention is our top priority,” said the convention spokeswoman Katie Peters. “After consultation with public health officials, the Democratic National Convention Committee will implement robust health and safety protocols that will govern the convention’s in-person activities and keep attendees safe before and during the convention.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, called the safety protocols “thoughtful and thorough.”

“While it is important to protect every person attending the convention, it is also important to protect the entire Milwaukee community,” Barrett said. “These protocols establish reasonable requirements in order to prevent additional COVID-19 infections in Milwaukee.”

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have spiked in Wisconsin since mid-June, with roughly a third of the state’s 49,417 cases in Milwaukee County and nearly half of the state’s 893 deaths there. A city ordinance requires masks to be worn when in a building that is open to the public or outside in a public space and within 6 feet of any other person who is not a household or family member.

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