With President Donald Trump fresh from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and recovering from coronavirus and the United States just surpassing 210,000 pandemic deaths, the Commission on Presidential Debates is taking no chances at Wednesday night’s bout between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris.
Not only will there be plexiglass barriers between the candidates — barriers that are already being mocked as inadequate — but everyone in the debate hall, except Pence, Harris and moderator Susan Page, will have to wear a mask for the entirety or else be escorted out, local ABC 23 reported.
The strict mask enforcement likely came about after most members of the Trump family infamously refused to wear masks in the debate hall during the September 29 contest between Trump and Biden.
Here’s what you need to know:
A Spokesman for the Debate Commission Said Anyone Who Doesn’t Wear Masks Will Be ‘Escorted Out’
Im told the debate commission will announce that – except the candidates and the moderator- all in hall must wear masks until the conclusion of debates now. Those who do not will be escorted out. (In Cleveland this week, the first family took their masks off after walking in)
— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) October 3, 2020
Peter Eyre, a senior Commission on Presidential Debates adviser, told ABC 3 that both candidates will be tested for COVID-19 before the debate, a change from the September 29 contest, where an “honor system” of sorts was in place, Denver’s ABC 7 reported.
White House officials have studiously avoided giving reporters a direct answer when asked if the president tested negative before the first debate, Buzzfeed News reported.
At Wednesday night’s event, everyone in the debate hall will have to wear a mask for the entire debate, and the CPD will not tolerate any non-maskers.
“If anyone does not wear a mask, they will be escorted out,” Eyre told ABC 7.
Chris Wallace, Who Moderated the First Debate, Slammed the Trump Family for Not Wearing Masks at Round 1
On October 4, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who moderated — or, attempted to moderate — the first debate, took Trump adviser Steve Cortes to task over the first family not wearing masks in the debate hall.
Noting that the Cleveland Clinic ordered that everyone in the facility be masked, Wallace asked Cortes, “Why did the rules not apply to them?”
Cortes insisted that everyone in the debate hall had been tested and that “people were distanced” in the seats. Also, Cortes said, the campaign “believes people can make reasonable individual choices.” Video from the debate does not support the idea that the seats were placed six feet apart, per CDC guidelines.
“It doesn’t matter, Steve,” Wallace said. “The rules from the Cleveland Clinic were that everybody wears a mask. Why didn’t they?”
Wallace added that Cleveland Clinic personnel approached the Trump family, offering them masks and were “waved away.”
“They’re the rules, and they’ll be kicked out next time,” he told Cortes.
The Commission on Presidential Debates did not respond to Heavy’s request for comment.
It was unclear Wednesday afternoon how many members of the first family would attend the Salt Lake City vice presidential debate. You can see different ways to stream the event, which starts at 9 p.m. eastern, here.