Georgia House releases health safety guidelines for remainder of session

All Georgia House members and staff will be required to wear masks while on Capitol grounds when lawmakers return to the complete the legislative session on Monday.

The General Assembly suspended the 2020 session in mid-March in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

In order to still fight the disease, according to guidance shared Wednesday, each House member and staffer will be required to wear a mask everywhere on Capitol grounds unless he or she is alone in a private office.

Everyone entering a House committee room — including lobbyists, journalists and members of the public — will be required to wear masks.

Senate leadership is strongly encouraging senators to wear masks but not requiring it. Senate staffers will be required to wear them.

During session, House members will be spread throughout the chamber, gallery and in an overflow room. All votes will be taken by voice, calling on each member individually, which will allow the clerk to record their vote.

Committee meetings have been reconfigured to allow social distancing. While the public is allowed in the rooms, if space permits, people are encouraged to watch proceedings through a livestream. The House announced earlier this week that all committee and subcommittee meetings would be streamed live online.

Legislators' main task will be passing the state budget, which will be vastly different than the one the House approved before the coronavirus pandemic slowed Georgia's economy nearly to a halt.