The House Sergeant-at-Arms said Thursday that all members of Congress will be invited to attend President Biden’s State of the Union address, opening up attendance after last year’s event was limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a memo, Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker said there will be COVID-19 safety measures in place, including requiring attendees to wear an N95 mask and producing a negative test. Few Republican lawmakers wear masks at the Capitol.
After consultation with the House physician, it was determined that testing will be required for lawmakers, invited press, and any staff who will be in close contact with principal attendees, Mr. Walker wrote in his memo.
The memo also recommends that any attendees who have not been vaccinated, including a booster shot, do so at least two weeks ahead of the March 1 event.
In early February, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, told colleagues that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was eyeing to cap attendance to 25 House members because of COVID-19. A spokesperson for Ms. Pelosi, California Democrat, said she hadn’t made a final decision about limiting attendance.
Mr. Biden last year delivered an address to a joint session of Congress, which was attended by 200 lawmakers, including 55 House Democrats and 25 House Republicans. A handful of senators, Pentagon officials, and Supreme Court justices also attended.
The surge of the omicron variant has resulted in 24 lawmakers getting COVID in January, but infection rates are starting to drop in Washington, D.C.