When the Alabama Legislature meets for a yet-to-be-called special session in the next few weeks, it will apparently do so with few, if any, COVID-19 restrictions.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon told Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal that he expected a special session to address the state’s prison issues before the end of the month.
On Monday, Statehouse officials said there are no planned restrictions at this time for that session, and they don’t expect any.
Pat Harris, the Secretary of the Alabama Senate, said that right now his only plan was to hang signs informing visitors that those who aren’t vaccinated need to wear a mask.
House Clerk Jeff Woodard said he’s still waiting to hear back from some members about seating arrangements and how the House gallery will be handled, but as of Monday, he said he wasn’t expecting major coronavirus restrictions.
“I think we’re pretty much going to be back to normal,” Harris said. “I know for the senate, there will be no restrictions on people up here.”
That lack of restrictions would be a major change from the 2021 legislative session, which took place last winter and spring. For the three months in which lawmakers were in session, the public was barred from the building and media members were restricted to certain areas.
The public was reduced to viewing floor votes and committee discussions on problematic video feeds. Even lobbyists were banned from the building.
The close quarters at the Statehouse could pose a risk to unvaccinated lawmakers — many of whom are over 65 and in various high-risk groups — and staff, particularly with no mask requirement in place.