Speaker: Virginia House to again meet remotely in 2021

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Virginia House will again conduct its work remotely when it convenes in January, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn announced Monday.
“As legislators, we must set an example on how to conduct our business and adapt during this pandemic. While I look forward to the time we can return to conducting business in person and go back to the way we operated prior to the global pandemic, at this time we must continue to listen to the experts and make informed, responsible decisions based on their recommendations and science,” Filler-Corn, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Lawmakers are scheduled to convene Jan. 13. The House also conducted its work virtually during the special session that concluded earlier this month.
A news release from Filler-Corn’s office said the decision was made after conversations with the Clerk of the House and experts at the Virginia Department of Health.
Her announcement comes as both cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 are increasing in Virginia and around the U.S. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday announced substantial new restrictions statewide that took effect Monday, including an alcohol curfew, expanded mask mandate and a tighter restriction on the size of gatherings.
Republicans raised concerns during the special session that meeting virtually in some cases hindered the public’s ability to testify on bills. They also said some of their caucus members who live in rural areas did not have reliable internet access.
Susan Clarke Schaar, the clerk of the Senate, did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the Senate’s plans. Jeff Ryer, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, said the chamber planned to convene again in person at the Science Museum of Virginia, like during the special session.