Access restrictions to the State Capitol will be partially loosened Monday to restore public access, with requirements such as entry point screenings, masks, appointment only office visits, social distancing, disinfection and more remaining in place for health and safety.
The protocols were developed in consultation with health professionals from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, who will be on-site to help carry them out.
“OU Health Sciences Center is pleased to mobilize the resources of our comprehensive academic medical center to assist in providing safe access to the Capitol while the Legislature is in session to complete its important work for the state,” said Jason Sanders, MD, MBA, Senior Vice President and Provost of the OU Health Sciences Center. “The building will be safe for everyone under the health and safety guidelines, and our infectious disease and public health experts will be on-site to lead the implementation of this reopening plan. These will not be normal days at the Capitol, but they will be safe days at the Capitol.”
The public can begin entering the building at 10 a.m. Monday.
Legislative office visits will be limited to appointment only. The House and Senate lobbies will be closed. Events, tours and large group visits continue to be prohibited.
Safety modifications to legislative committee and floor activity protocols are continuing to be discussed.
The services OU Health Sciences Center will provide at the Capitol are:
OU Health Sciences Center’s public health and infectious diseases experts will implement social distancing protocols in the Capitol. Seating arrangement modifications will be made to ensure at least six feet between people. Signage will be placed throughout the Capitol providing social distancing guidance and information on reducing the spread of COVID-19. To maintain social distancing, access to meeting rooms, galleries and other areas will be controlled by safety personnel. Visitors must follow instructions provided via signage or safety personnel.
Medical professionals from the OU Health Sciences Center will use the most recent guidance to screen for COVID-19 as people enter the building. Screening will be non-invasive and take fewer than five minutes. People who do not pass the screening will not be admitted.
It is strongly recommended that visitors wear masks in the Capitol. Visitors should bring their own masks. Mask patterns are available at oumedicine.com/thechallenge
should the public wish to sew their own mask.
COVID-19 educational materials developed by OU Health Sciences Center experts will be provided following the screening.
OU Health Sciences Center officials consulted with legislative cleaning staff on U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance for clinical setting disinfection protocols. Cleaning staff will use these protocols to disinfect daily.
The protocols will remain in place for at least two weeks. They are subject to change as needed.
Since mid-March, Capitol access had been restricted to elected officials, essential staff and the press. The Legislature was in session at the Capitol for two legislative days under the restricted access. Legislative business has continued off-site, with members working from their districts and staff working remotely.
“Capitol access is being phased in cautiously just like Oklahoma’s reopening is being phased in cautiously,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. “If you truly need to be at the Capitol, you can be there under health precautions, and if you do not need to be there, be safe and watch online.”
Each legislative chamber will continue operating with reduced on-site staffing. At-risk employees will continue working remotely.
“The guidance of the health professionals at OU Health Sciences Center puts the public and our staff in good hands,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “Health professionals advised us on the previous access guidelines, and they are advising us on these, as well.”
Legislators will discuss plans for the rest of session when they convene Monday.