Next up for convention weirdness: the Republican Party.
A group of 336 delegates began arriving this weekend for the Republican National Convention before a formal roll call Monday morning in Charlotte, N.C. There, President Donald Trump will be nominated in a ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center to lead his party for another four years.
The gathering will be muted compared with what was originally envisioned, before the coronavirus pandemic upended both parties' convention plans.
Charlotte, originally prepared to host a raucous presidential renomination celebration, will now be where the procedural party business will take place. Republican National Committee members gathered over the weekend for their annual summer meeting. And Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a group of congressional lawmakers are expected to arrive Monday for the televised, in-person roll call and for brief nomination speeches.
In June, Trump abruptly moved the convention to Jacksonville, Fla., after reaching a stalemate with Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, over social distancing rules. The president had no interest in speaking in front of a less-than-packed arena because delegates were forced to stand 6 feet away from one another.
But Trump was eventually forced to scrap the Jacksonville plans in favor of four nights of virtual prime-time programming that will feature party leaders speaking from a variety of locations.
Even just bringing delegates together in person — and indoors — has required months of planning by Republican officials, who submitted a 42-page health plan to North Carolina officials and hired a doctor, Jeffrey W. Runge, to serve as a senior adviser to the convention proceedings.
The result, at least optically, will be exactly the scene Trump had hoped to avoid: a cavernous room that, because of social distancing requirements, will look mostly empty — if people follow the rules.
But Trump is still expected to attend Monday, to thank delegates and to deliver a brief nomination speech, although his appearance in Charlotte was not confirmed.
Leading up to kickoff weekend, Republican National Convention attendees were asked to stay at home as much as possible beginning Aug. 6 to reduce potential exposure to the coronavirus. While in Charlotte, attendees are expected to have their temperatures taken before entering the venue and then given a daily "health-pass bracelet" that will allow them to participate, according to a copy of the Republicans' health plan obtained by the New York Times.
All attendees are expected to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from one another while inside the venue, and the Republican National Committee said it would enforce a statewide mask mandate and provide masks, gloves, portable hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to all attendees. The committee also said it planned to contact every attendee five, 14 and 21 days after the event to track the possible spread of the coronavirus.
The health protocols have helped ease concerns from local Democratic officials who were apprehensive about a large-scale gathering.
"I'm glad that it's not the convention that we originally thought it would be," said Larken Egleston, a Democratic City Council member in Charlotte. "But as scaled-back as it is, I think it can be done safely."