AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature meets for the first time Wednesday since COVID-19 ended the last session in mid-March.
According to the Maine Constitution, the first Wednesday of December is swear-in day for members of the legislature.
Typically, these lawmakers meet at the State House in Augusta. However, due to COVID-19, this year will look a little different.
The executive director of the Augusta Civic Center says safe social distancing wouldn’t be possible at the capital building so the civic center is an excellent alternative.
“This building lends itself extremely well for an event just like this,” said Earl Kingsbury, executive director of the civic center. “The auditorium itself is 24,000 square feet. We’re able to keep all of the rows 10 feet apart and we gave everybody their own seven-foot table.”
The Senate will meet in the north wing on the second floor and the House in the main auditorium.
Despite all of the extra safety measures put in place, Kingsbury says he understands people still may not go.
“I don’t think any precautions that are put in place now, and I think even after a vaccine is distributed and it’s available to people,” Kingsbury said, “I think people are still going to be nervous and leery until there is a comfort level.”
The Augusta Civic Center is well known for holding conferences, concerts, and the state high school basketball tournament.
While the basketball tournament along with other events have been canceled, Kingsbury says they plan to keep busy.
“We are keeping everything under 50 people. This building lends itself extremely well. I’ve got four separate entrances, I could have four separate groups in here that are completely isolated from one another,” Kingsbury said.
The legislature will continue to meet at the civic center for the time being.
Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, only time will tell if they will move back to the State House.