AUSTIN, Texas — Nearly a week before the opening day of the Texas Senate, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released a list of COVID-19 protocols to be in place for the 87th Legislative session.
This news comes on the same day that the Texas Capitol is opening up again to the public after being closed due to the pandemic.
In the letter released by Patrick, he said the protocols put into place were to ensure the health and safety of all who visit the Capitol, as well as the employees, staff and senators. The letter also states that the protocols are to help avoid a potential shutdown due to the coronavirus so the legislators may carry out their constitutional duties over the next several months.
The COVID-19 protocols for the Texas Senate are:
- Guest seating for the opening day ceremony will be allocated by each of the 31 senators. Lt. Gov. Patrick and the senators have decided to limit floor seating to one family member at each senator's desk. There will be no floor seating outside the brass rail or anywhere else on the Senate floor. In year's past, the Senate floor was fully available to use by family and other guests.
- Each senator will be given three tickets for seats in the Senate Gallery for their family and/or constituents. Limiting each senator to three tickets will keep the Senate Gallery floor seating to less than 100 guests and will therefore allow proper distancing.
- Senators have agreed to be tested for COVID-19 when entering the Capitol. Staff members will also be tested.
- Opening day guests of senators will also be tested for COVID-19 prior to entering.
- On opening day, all Senate guests must enter through the Capitol's east entrance, where the testing will be done.
- The ceremony for opening day will be shorter than usual to reduce time spent gathering.
- Most Senate offices will be open by appointment only on opening day and throughout the legislative session.
Protocols and rules for the first 60 days of the legislative session will be voted on by the senators the first week of the session and will be released shortly after, according to Patrick.
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