CLEVELAND, Ohio — Media covering the first presidential debate Sept. 29 in Cleveland must abide by a series of health guidelines issued by the Commission on Presidential Debates and pay $100 to be tested for the coronavirus.
The guidelines, issued Monday, require media representatives to be tested by The Cleveland Clinic for COVID-19 coronavirus. Those who test negative will be able to gain access to the debate site. The tests are valid for 72 hours.
The test is just one of many signs of how the 2020 presidential debates will be different because of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the worst health crisis in a century.
Rules for credentialed media are not unusual. During the Republican National Convention in 2016, for example, credentialed media were staged at the Huntington Convention Center and then shuttled inside a secure area around Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for events.
Next week’s presidential debate will be held at the Health Education Campus in the heart of The Clinic complex where, like the RNC, access will be limited. Portions of Chester and Euclid avenues will be closed — from East 89th Street to East 101st Street for Chester and from East 89th Street to East 105th Street for Euclid. Side street access also will be blocked.
Like during the RNC, credentialed media will be shuttled to the event. The health protocols, though, are unusual.
In addition to requiring coronavirus tests, the commission issued these health guidelines:
• Face masks must be worn at all times. Cloth masks are not acceptable. Blue surgical masks are being required and will be available on site.
• Hands should be washed often with soap and water for at least 15 to 20 seconds.
• Attendees should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Attendees must stay at least 6 feet away from others.
• A cough or sneeze should be caught in a tissue, which then is to be discarded in the trash.
After media personnel are tested, they will be asked to self-isolate for two to six hours while awaiting results.
If the test comes back negative, they will be given a green wristband that will allow them to collect their credentials and enter the debate area.
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