Legislative Hall will now allow some people to attend session. Here's how to sign up
The Delaware General Assembly is allowing some members of the public to return to the building and listen to floor debates in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Legislative Hall in Dover will allow 25 people each in the House and Senate for the remaining 11 days of the legislative year that ends June 30.
Masks will be required and attendees will sit in the galleries, according to a news release from the General Assembly announcing the opening.
You can reserve seats on the General Assembly website https://legis.delaware.gov. The House and Senate will use separate online signup forms, which will be available at 5 p.m. the day before each session day.
The General Assembly meets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Signups will close either once all seats have been reserved or 10 a.m. the next morning, whichever comes first. Capitol Police will be given the names of those who have reserved a seat.
Doors to Legislative Hall will open 30 minutes before each chamber convenes session.
"In order to accommodate as many Delawareans as possible, members of the public are encouraged to sign up to observe only one chamber each day," the release says.
While this is the first time that Legislative Hall is open to the public since March 2020, the 50-person limit will be a stark contrast from the usual hustle-bustle of the final weeks of the legislative year, when typically a crowd of shoulder-rubbing lobbyists, grassroots organizations and government staff pack the multi-story building.
The rest of the building including the cafeteria, library and House and Senate floors will remain closed, the release said.
The General Assembly will continue to broadcast floor debates and committee meetings online via its website. The public is not allowed inside the House chamber this Wednesday, June 9, or June 15-16, when those committee meetings are scheduled.
Seating will be available in the Senate gallery on any Wednesday in which the Senate meets, the release said.
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Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.