“It’s an 11 on the weird scale”: Colorado legislature makes an awkward return to the Capitol
A series of health and safety protocols reshaped what lawmaking looked like in the General Assembly as lawmakers restarted the legislative session
The hallways were mostly empty. The lawmakers were mostly masked. The interactions were mostly awkward.
The General Assembly’s return to the state Capitol after a two-month coronavirus pause looked anything but normal. Members of the House sat at desks divided by plexiglass or in the gallery above the chamber shouting down their votes on legislation. In the Senate, some legislators were forced to balance computers on their laps as they worked in areas of the chamber’s floor typically designated for seating visitors.
“It’s an 11 on the weird scale,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat.
The differences began from the moment visitors entered the gold-domed building, in part because of a last-minute decision by Democratic leaders to put in place mandatory public health protocols.
At the door, visitors had their temperature checked with a contactless thermometer, and volunteers with a global public health organization asked screening questions about potential symptoms. “Do you have a new or worsening cough today? Do you have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing? Do you have a sore throat or other flu-like symptoms?” people entering the building are asked.
The temperatures were written down in a log along with the time of day they are taken. Anyone granted entry was given a red band to wear around their wrist. Red tape and signs direct people on which direction to walk, where to sit and which staircases to take in the narrow corridors.
The public is required to wear masks — but it remains optional for lawmakers — as part of the new rules issued less than 24 hours before session restarted. The move reversed an earlier decision from Democratic leaders to issue only informal guidance requesting that people wear masks.
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