Reporters will not be permitted to attend the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, NC, where GOP delegates will formally pick US President Donald Trump as their party’s nominee for the 2020 US presidential election, CNN reported on Saturday, citing a convention spokesperson and a GOP official who claimed to be familiar with the matter.
Although the events would be closed to the press, the Republican official told the outlet that portions of the convention, in particular the Monday proceedings including the formal presidential nomination for Trump, would be livestreamed.
GOP officials reportedly said that they were forced to implement the unprecedented restriction because of social distancing guidelines imposed by the governor of North Carolina over public health concerns stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed to the press Friday, August 21 -- Monday, August 24,” the RNC convention spokesperson said on Saturday, quoted by CNN. “We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events”.
The number of people planned to attend the event in person was significantly reduced, with the party moving to allow only 336 delegates to vote in person at the convention proceedings – every one of these delegates would represent 6 delegates, according to the outlet.
An RNC official downplayed the possibility that Trump would deliver an acceptance speech for the nomination, noting that if the president attends the Charlotte event in person, he might only meet the delegates in a private event, without the presence of the press.
On 23 July, Trump told reporters that he was canceling “the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP convention”, as it was “not the right time” to hold a “big convention”.
Later in the day, the Trump campaign team said in a statement that they were “leading by example” and putting the “health and safety of the American people first”.
As of Saturday, there are a minimum of 4.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US COVID-19 death toll stands at over 154,300. The United States has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities of all the countries of the world.