The quadrennial conventions held by Republicans and Democrats are really just big soirees for the party faithful, many of whom have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to get their presidential candidate elected.
But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s all about to change.
Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), on Thursday told party members that the convention in Jacksonville, Florida, will be heavily scaled back this time around.
For instance, the festivities will be limited only to official delegates for the first three days — Aug. 24-26 — which means just 2,500 people will attend.
On the fourth day, Aug. 27, when President Trump formally accepts the nomination, delegates will be allowed to bring one guest and alternate delegates will also be allowed to attend. That means about 6,000 or 7,000 people will be in attendance for the historic occasion.
“I want to make clear that we still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” McDaniel wrote in a letter to Republicans. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his re-nomination for a second term — while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.”
McDaniel said the RNC will use numerous health protocols to ensure a safe event, including on-site temperature checks, available personal protective equipment, “aggressive” sanitizing protocols, and available COVID-19 testing.
Trump last month pulled out of North Carolina as a site for the full convention, bashing the state’s governor Roy Cooper by writing on Twitter that the Democrat “made it absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for the Republican Party to have its Convention” in Charlotte.
Then it was announced that the RNC would move much of the convention’s festivities to Florida, which has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. And then the plan was changed to hold some events outside. The official business for the convention will still take place in Charlotte, but celebration has been moved to Jacksonville.
The RNC chairwoman also said the Jacksonville host committee plans to use both indoor and outdoor facilities in Florida for events during the week. Republican officials have been eyeing the possibility of moving the planned in-person nominating convention from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville to one of two nearby outdoor sites — a minor league baseball park that seats about 11,000, or a football stadium that seats 65,000.
“I want to reiterate that the RNC is working around the clock to ensure the convention celebration in Jacksonville is still an exciting, premier event,” McDaniel said. “We are looking forward to a fantastic week in Jacksonville as we celebrate this historic moment in the life of our nation.”
The Democratic Party, on the other hand, plans to hold a virtual convention the week before the scheduled Republican convention, The Los Angeles Times reported.