New safety precautions in place as General Assembly heads back to work

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Rhode Island’s state senators and representatives are back in session at the statehouse.

Starting Monday, some new safety measures are being put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Plexiglass dividers are being put up around each desk in the house and senate chambers. Statehouse crews will also be cleaning shared areas more regularly.

“Dividers are going to go around all 75 House desks and 38 Senate desks,” said House Communications Director, Larry Berman.

“They’ll also put a shield in front of the Speaker and Senate Presidents,” he said.

Lawmakers will still be required to wears masks when not seated at their desks. They are also being encouraged to watch longer hearings from their offices on Capitol TV, and only come into the chamber when it comes time to cast their votes.

For now, law-makers, staff, and journalists are allowed back inside the statehouse, but the general public will have to wait until July.

House and Senate Committee meetings resumed Monday. Full hearings will resume on Wednesday.

The first order of business the General Assembly needs to take care of is settling the Supplemental Budget for 2019-2020.

The coronavirus pandemic has created a $235 million deficit in the state’s fiscal budget. That shortfall must be filled by June 30.

After settling this year’s budget, the General Assembly will break again, before tackling next year’s budget in July.

According to Berman, the delay there is because “Congress is still debating how much relief can be sent to all the states.”

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Politics, Rhode Island