Republican Party scales back national convention

The US’ Republican Party has decided to scale back its national convention slated to be held in August in Florida amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the state, according to a top official.

In a letter to convention delegates, who will vote at the occasion to confirm President Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said on Thursday that attendance will be limited to the 2,500 regular delegates for the first three days of the convention, reports Xinhua news agency.

The delegates will be allowed to bring one guest on the fourth and final day of the gathering when Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech for accepting the nomination.

Alternate delegates will also be allowed to attend the convention on the final day, according to the new plan, bringing total attendance to somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 people.

McDaniel said the convention will feature a mix of activities both indoors and outdoors, with programming scheduled every night — along with events and festivities in the day — between August 24 and 27 in Jacksonville, the host city of the convention.

Trump, who insisted that the convention celebrating his nomination be held in full scale, decided in June to change the location of the gathering from Charlotte, North Carolina, after Republicans failed to come to an agreement with North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who vowed to stick to a scaled-back convention amid the pandemic — in defiance of the president’s request.

To ensure participants’ health and safety, the RNC said the upcoming convention will provide on-site temperature checks of attendees, personal protective equipment, “aggressive” sanitizing protocols and COVID-19 testing.

The news about a smaller-than-planned convention came as Florida has emerged as a new COVID-19 hotspot in the country, with single-day cases recently breaking the national record and nearing 14,000 on Thursday, according to the latest update by the Florida Department of Health.

Total infections in the state have now surpassed 315,000, and the death toll has increased beyond 4,600 after recording 112 new fatalities on Wednesday.

In her letter, McDaniel promised that the convention will celebrate Trump’s re-nomination while being held “in a safe and responsible manner”.