The Republican National Convention was last held in Florida in 2012, when it was in Tampa. The crowd sizes at the 2020 event in Jacksonville are likely to look far different due to COVID-19 restrictions. (WUFT News file photo)

GOP Scales Back Convention Plans In Florida, Relenting On Virus Restrictions


The Republican Party announced Thursday morning that it is scaling back its upcoming nominating convention and will hold what party chair Ronna McDaniel is calling a “convention celebration” next month in Jacksonville, Fla.

Bowing to the realities of holding a mass gathering in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in Florida, which has seen a spike in new cases, attendance at the convention during its first few days, Aug. 24-26, will be limited to delegates only, which is a little more than 2,500 people.

On the final day of the Republican National Convention, Aug. 27, when President Trump will give his acceptance speech, each of those delegates will be able to have a guest, and alternate delegates will be able to attend. This will bring a total of around 7,000 people, an expected attendance in line with Trump’s one post-pandemic rally in Tulsa, Okla., last month.

The specific location of speeches and other events remains unsettled, with McDaniel listing the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, an indoor facility seating 15,000 people, along with other nearby outdoor facilities as locations that will host different daytime and evening events.

McDaniel also listed health safety measures the party plans to implement. “This plan includes but is not limited to on-site temperature checks, available PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available COVID-19 testing,” she wrote.

Despite adjusting plans in the midst of the surge in COVID-19 across Florida, McDaniel still criticized North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, saying he decided “to play politics” by insisting on pandemic-related restrictions for the originally planned convention in Charlotte.

Formal convention business, with less than 200 party officials, will take place in Charlotte on Aug. 24.

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