PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began in early March, both chambers of the Rhode Island Legislature returned to the State House Wednesday afternoon.
Three-sided plexiglass partitions have been installed around the House’s 75 desks and the Senate’s 38 desks, as well as around the rostrums where the House Speaker and Senate President preside.
Larry Berman, a spokesman for the House, tells Eyewitness News that the state spent $166,542 on the protective barriers.
The funding comes from the Department of Administration’s budget, but the expense meets all of the criteria needed for the state to utilize the state’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.
The State House is still closed to the public; lawmakers, their staff and the media are allowed inside, however, must follow a new set of guidelines.
Lawmakers do not have to wear a mask while seated at their desk, but must wear one when they get up and while moving throughout the building.
Everyone is also required to practice social distancing, and lawmakers are encouraged to watch longer sessions in their offices prior to entering the chamber for an official vote.