Thursday, June 18, 2020

Judge denies request to stop Trump rally due to coronavirus concerns

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An Oklahoma judge has declined to issue a court order blocking President Trump’s rally in Tulsa on Saturday unless its organizers impose safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.

The Greenwood Cultural Centre, the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation and two immunocompromised city residents sued the operators of the 19,000-seat BOK Center, Politico reported.

They argued that the rally — Trump’s first since the pandemic shuttered most of the nation — would be an incubator for another outbreak among the masses scheduled to attend.

“If ASM Global moves forward with the event without adequate review, planning, training, protective equipment, and safeguards, cases of COVID-19 — and the unavoidable attendant deaths — will rise,” the plaintiffs said, referring to the venue management company, the news outlet reported.

Paul DeMuro, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, said the case will now head to the state Supreme Court.

“The lawsuit is still intact and moving forward,” DeMuro told CNN. “We will continue to fight in the Oklahoma Supreme Court.”

He said the decision to seek an injunction was not political.

“We’re not asking to stop the rally. So you need to understand that, first, if Joe Biden, if the Thunder [the NBA team in nearby Oklahoma City], if Garth Brooks was wanting to have a 19,000-person event and this center on Sunday, without abiding by the government-mandated CDC guidelines, with respect to mass events, we’d be making the same allegations and filing the same lawsuit,” DeMuro told CNN.

“All we’re asking, it’s very simple: If the president wants to hold a rally here, he needs to abide by the social distancing guidelines of his own (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” he added.

In their request for an injunction Tuesday, the plaintiffs asked the court to require social-distancing measures, including the use of face masks — but they were notified by phone later in the day that Judge Rebecca Nightingale denied their request.

Pence defends holding Tulsa campaign rally, says precautions are in place

BOK Center spokeswoman Meghan Blood said the venue was following the state‘s regulations amid the pandemic.

“Government officials have advised that the campaign rally as planned is consistent with the guidance for the OURS plan for entertainment venues, however, in the event that the governing authorities impose new restrictions, we will notify the event organizers immediately,“ Blood told Politico, referring to the acronym for Open Up & Recover Safely.

The Trump campaign has said the attendees will undergo temperature checks at the venue, and will be provided with face masks and hand sanitizer — but there are no plans to implement social-distancing guidelines.

People who sign up online for free tickets to the event are asked to sign a waiver acknowledging that an “inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present” and agree not to hold the campaign liable for any illness or injury.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, a Republican, said on Facebook earlier Tuesday: “As someone who is cautious by nature, I don’t like to be the first to try anything. I would have loved some other city to have proven the safety of such an event already.”

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