Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi did not follow recommended CDC guidelines when she was sworn in, according to the Daily Wire.
Attendees seemed to abandon all social distancing requirements and frequently spoke in close quarters without masks, according to journalists that were present.
Pelosi stressed that Congress would be primarily concerned with the “unprecedented national crisis,” COVID-19. She said later that the new class’s “most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus.”
A video of the event shows “hundreds of lawmakers wandering around the chamber speaking with each other in close contact and shaking hands.”
Mass swearing-in for most House members into 117th Congress instead of all in smaller groups as previously announced for COVID-19 safety floor guidelines. pic.twitter.com/e73g16x2UT
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) January 3, 2021
and now that the masses have been sworn in, there is a bottleneck of people racing to leave. barely an attempt to distance. Barely.
— Emily Cochrane (@ESCochrane) January 3, 2021
A New York Times reporter said, “And live from the House floor, it’s utter chaos,” she wrote. “Way too many people. No social distancing. Masks being removed to speak. Yelling, Shushing. Phones ringing.”
“And now that the masses have been sworn in,” she continued, “there is a bottleneck of people racing to leave. Barely an attempt to distance. Barely.”
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“As Members of Congress, we are considered essential workers. We must take our responsibility seriously,” Pelosi said. Members are required to “wear masks at all times,” to “respect social distancing” and that they will make an effort to “limit the number of Members on the floor” at any given time.
More from The Daily Wire:
Pelosi is already under scrutiny for demanding that Democrats return to Washington, D.C., to cast their ballot to re-elect her as Speaker despite coronavirus-related lockdowns still in effect across the country and a rising infection rate. Democrats had previously approved a “proxy voting” scheme to allow Members to work from home, but only in-person votes count in the leadership election.
As the Daily Wire reported earlier on Monday, Pelosi is also facing questions as to why she allowed a Member of Congress who recently tested positive for COVID-19 to vote in person this weekend, and over her decision to have a plexiglass partition erected overnight so that Democrats who may have been exposed to the virus could still vote. Republicans say they were not notified about either the partition or the possibility that Members who had been exposed to the coronavirus would be allowed to attend the vote.
Washington, D.C., is currently in “phase two” of its coronavirus mitigation plan, which allows most businesses and public locations to be open with strict occupancy limitations. Because of a rise in positive coronavirus tests, indoor dining and other indoor activities where individuals are not able to adequately social distance are largely suspended. Nonessential businesses are limited to 25% capacity or 250 people, whichever is fewer, according to the city’s tourism website, but most museums, government buildings, and major landmarks remain completely closed.