UPDATE-HOUSTON FIRST HAS SENT THE STATE REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN A LETTER STATING THEY ARE CANCELING THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
As the Republican Party of Texas moves forward with plans for an in-person convention during a surge of coronavirus cases, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he has directed his administration to explore ways to cancel the event.
During a virtual City Council meeting Wednesday, Turner said he has asked the city’s legal department to work with the Houston First Corporation, which operates the George R. Brown Convention Center, to review the contract with the state party.
“Where there are provisions that would allow us to cancel this convention – we will exercise those provisions,” Turner said. “And the plan is to exercise those provisions to cancel this agreement, this contract, today – to not go forward with this convention.”
The news comes days after Mayor Turner threatened to cancel the convention if it violated COVID-19 rules.
As of Monday, the city of Houston had 963 new COVID-19 new cases. By Tuesday, there were 1,060 new cases. Statewide, there are more than 10,000 cases.
With the number of people getting infected by the virus and no cure in sight, for the first time, the Texas Medical Center announced they have entered Phase 2 for ICU beds, according to Houston City Council.
According to the City of Houston, it has asked convention organizers to a virtual convention instead of an in-person session.
Additional reporting by ABC13 found that Dr. Presse with the Houston Health Department shared in a letter that “the planned use of the George R. Brown Convention is a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of attendees, workes, local hotel workers and restaurant owners.”
In response to Turner’s directions, the Texas Republican Party Chairman, James Dickey issued the following statement:
“This morning at the Houston City Council meeting, Mayor Sylvester Turner stated that he will do all he can to cancel the Republican Party of Texas State Convention. After allowing tens of thousands of protestors to peaceably assemble in the same city, in the same area, without any of the safety precautions and measures we have taken, he is seeking to deny a political Party’s critical electoral function that should be equally protected under the constitution. Mayor Turner had the authority to shut down the convention, until he actively took steps – as reported by the Houston Chronicle on June 30 – “removing his own authority to cancel it.” the statement read.
According to Dickey, they instituted the following precautions ahead of the convention:
Thermal scanning of each attendee when they enter the convention center
Revised floor plans for the caucuses and general sessions to accommodate social distancing
Established deep cleanings after every meeting
Provided contactless registration
Established one-way traffic in our exhibit hall
Elevated curtain height to create further separation at exhibit booths
Provided contactless hand sanitizer,
Obtained masks for attendees use
“With his words today, Mayor Turner is saying Houston does not want business. He does not want Houston to get back to work. He is not able to move forward and rise to these new challenges. Is the City of Houston never going to get back to work? Is the City of Houston never to hold another convention at their cavernous Convention Center? This is an opportunity to show how to get back to work safely and how to hold conventions safely with cutting edge technology. Our legal team is assessing the ability of the City to act at this time in this manner and weighing our legal options. We are prepared to take all necessary steps to proceed in the peaceable exercise of our constitutionally protected rights,” Dickey wrote.