WASHINGTON • The Democratic National Convention will move out of Milwaukee’s professional basketball arena and state delegations are being urged not to travel to the city because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
Former US vice-president Joe Biden still intends to travel to Milwaukee to accept his party’s presidential nomination, his campaign manager said, but neither his campaign nor the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has made firm commitments that he will attend.
The Democratic convention will be “anchored” in Milwaukee, but the four-night mid-August event will “include both live broadcasts and curated content from Milwaukee and other satellite cities, locations and landmarks across the country”, according to a news release on Wednesday.
The announcement that the convention will move five blocks from the 17,000-seat Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Centre, Milwaukee’s convention centre, stands in contrast to the plans being made by the Republicans who, at the behest of President Donald Trump, moved the venue for his nomination acceptance speech from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, where local officials have required fewer safety precautions, even as cases of the virus surge in Florida.
The news of the changes came as the US reported the highest single-day total of new coronavirus cases since late April.
It remains unclear how many delegates will converge on Milwaukee for the convention or even who will be allowed inside the convention hall. It is also not yet decided what sort of access journalists will have to the proceedings.
Nor is it clear how much space convention planners will need for a production footprint or what social distancing requirements will be in place when the convention begins on Aug 17.
While Mr Biden’s campaign insists that he is planning to attend, they have yet to make a firm commitment.
“Vice-President Biden intends to proudly accept his party’s nomination in Milwaukee,” said Ms Jen O’Malley Dillon, his campaign manager. “The city of Milwaukee has been an incredible partner, and we are committed to highlighting Wisconsin as a key battleground state at our convention this August.”
The spreading virus outbreak has forced Democrats to drastically roll back plans for what would have been an enormous celebration of Mr Biden and the party’s efforts to oust Mr Trump.
A survey of DNC members last month found that the vast majority of them did not want to attend an in-person convention, citing health risks from the pandemic.
All of the convention’s official business – setting its rules, adopting a platform and formally nominating Mr Biden and his running mate – will be conducted remotely, party officials said.