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COVID spike stamps out hopes to fully open Leg Hall to the public

Joe Irizarry
Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers return to Dover next week, but hopes for a more open Leg Hall have been dashed by a spike in cases of COVID-19.

“I think every one of us had hoped the pandemic outlook and the format of our legislative session would be different this January, but the sudden spike in COVID cases combined with the highly contagious nature of the Omicron pandemic demands that we take steps to protect our continuity of governance," says Senate President Pro Temp David Sokola.

House and Senate leaders announced committees will meet virtually through January, using the same procedures lawmakers from last year.

However, there’s still a chance for the public to witness votes. Lawmakers will convene in-person on Thursdays, and a limited number of seats will be open in the gallery for the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Doors will open an hour before the legislative session is scheduled to begin on those days, and masks will be required in the building.

The General Assembly will continue broadcasting its proceedings on its website.

Lawmakers meet for three weeks in January before breaking while the Joint Finance Committee begins work on next year’s budget.

Links to register for virtual committee meetings and agendas for legislative sessions are available on the General Assembly’s website.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf says they will re-evaluate plans for the session when lawmakers return in March.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.