WASHINGTON – The Republican National Committee sent North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper a letter Thursday evening specifying “safety protocols” they want him to approve for their party’s convention this August amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter, obtained by USA TODAY, comes after Cooper, a Democrat, said earlier Thursday that RNC organizers had yet to provide written plans for how they envisioned to safely hold the convention in Charlotte.
RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel wrote, “As we have previously discussed, it is our shared goal to host the Republican Nation Convention in Charlotte and to showcase the Queen City, and all of the Carolinas, to the entire world in August.”
The RNC told Cooper’s office they want a response by June 3. President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he wanted to know “within a week” whether the convention could be held in North Carolina.
“We don’t have much time,” Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden. “If the governor can’t tell us very soon, unfortunately we’ll have no choice. The people want it.”
There is no mention of wearing face masks or social distancing in the letter, which are both currently the state’s guidelines.
Some of the procedures listed in the letter, that are now waiting to be approved by the governor’s office, include:
- “Pre-travel health surveys through the RNC partnership with local health care providers.
- Daily health care questionnaires delivered via an app.
- Thermal scans of mandatory attendees prior to boarding sanitized, pre-arranged transportation.
- Anti-bacterial gel will be widely available.
- Aggressive sanitizing protocol for all public areas.
- Planned transportation buses will be dropped off at the Charlotte Convention Center which will act as a mandatory hub for a final health care screening by health care officials.
- All attendees would have to pass a clean health check prior to entering dedicated chute to the Spectrum Arena – where all attendees would then be processed through normal United States Secret Service screening with normal event queue lines.
- Media suites and hospitality areas will be subject to food service guidelines similar to any other restaurant.”
“If there are any additional guidelines to what is outlined above that we will be expected to meet, you need to let us know,” the letter continued. “Time is of the essence.”
In a statement provided to USA TODAY in response, the governor’s spokesperson Sadie Weiner said, “We are still waiting for a plan from the RNC, but our office will work with state health officials to review the letter and share a response tomorrow.”
The GOP convention is scheduled for the week of Aug. 24.
North Carolina, which is undergoing a phased reopening of the state, does not allow gatherings of more than 10 people indoors. The Republican convention is expected to draw up to 50,000 to Charlotte, the state’s largest city.
Trump has stressed wanting to be able to “fully occupy” the convention space, and has threatened to potentially move the convention, saying, “We don’t know what our situation is going to be regarding COVID-19 in North Carolina. We have to have options.”
Cooper has maintained that he will rely upon health officials to decide how the GOP convention would be managed. He said Tuesday, “I hope that we can find some kind of reasonable accommodation. But we’re not going to sacrifice the health and safety of North Carolinians, and that’s the bottom line.”
The Democratic National Convention, after delaying their convention by about a month, have been exploring potentially “creative” alternatives to holding a traditional national meeting in Milwaukee this August, including perhaps virtual aspects, depending on the status of the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter was first reported by the New York Times.
Contributing: John Fritze, Maureen Groppe USA TODAY