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COVID-19 precautions ignored at state Capitol hearing

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Dozens of people ignoring coronavirus protocols filled a state Capitol room for a hearing on legislation to limit the government’s response to public health emergencies.

The Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics hearing did not require mask-wearing, and those who filled the room did not wear masks or socially distance themselves Wednesday, ignoring the advice of public health officials who say face coverings will limit the spread of COVID-19.

Photos posted on Twitter by Sen. Melissa Agard show participants gathered in a state Capitol overflow room to watch televised proceedings of the committee’s hearing.

“We are nearly a year into this pandemic, and this is what we are seeing in the state capitol today: no masks, no social distancing, and no safety precautions for the staff who have no choice but to be in the building,” Agard wrote on Twitter. “This is reckless and dangerous.”

Lawmakers have been at odds about mask-wearing in committee hearings, with many Republican lawmakers choosing not to do so, the State Journal reported.

The committee was hearing public testimony on a resolution calling for a U.S. Constitutional Convention to impose fiscal and other restraints on the federal government, and bills to prohibit the government and private employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations.

Many who testified were critical of what they called government overreach, specifically government or employer mandates requiring vaccinations or masks.

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