GOP’s convention town sez masks must be worn
The city of Jacksonville, Florida, where President Trump is expected to accept the Republican nomination in front of a raucous crowd in his bid for reelection, on Monday enacted a mandatory mask requirement for public and indoor locations and places where social distancing is not possible.
The Republican National Committee had decided to move most of the events at the convention from Charlotte, N.C., to Jacksonville, where it is scheduled for the last week of August.
Trump has insisted on giving his Republican acceptance speech to a packed arena where participants will neither wear masks nor enforce social distancing. North Carolina officials were unwilling to guarantee those conditions, leading to the Jacksonville move.
It’s unclear if Jacksonville’s mask mandate will still be in place by the time of the Republican convention on Aug. 25-27 at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds 15,000 people.
A spokesman for Mayor
Lenny Curry, a Republican who supports Trump and adamantly opposed mandatory mask-wearing as late as last week, said he flip-flopped after discussions with business and health care leaders.
“Every single day, almost, we have conversations with hospital providers and CEOs and other members of our community and we felt that it was time to take this step,” said Jordan Elsbury, Curry’s chief of staff.
Meanwhile, a group of nearly 500 Florida-based doctors — many from northeast Florida — signed an open letter to Curry calling for the convention to be postponed. The letter, which was given to Curry over the weekend, also urged officials to require masks.
“It is extremely dangerous and contrary to current public health recommendations to stage a large event in an area where the number of cases is surging. The RNC should be postponed or very significantly reduced in numbers because of these risks,” the open letter states.
Florida has recorded soaring new record high numbers of coronavirus cases in recent days.