US election 2020: Biden and Harris to debate behind plexiglass

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Democratic Senator Kamala Harris and US Vice President Mike Pence

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger Kamala Harris will be separated by plexiglass in their head-to-head debate this week.

Candidates will sit at least 3.6 m apart for Wednesday’s event in Salt Lake City, Utah, to limit the risk of Covid transmission.

It comes after President Donald Trump and several others near him test positive for coronavirus.

Both vice presidential candidates recently tested negative.

Information about the event, published Monday by the Presidential Debate Commission (CPD), said that “Plexiglass is used as part of the CPD’s overall approach to health and safety”.

According to US media reports, the request was made by Ms. Harris’ team.

In response to the announcement, Mr. Pence’s spokeswoman Katie Miller said, “If Senator Harris wants to use a fortress around you, you have it.”

Harris’s press secretary Sabrina Singh later tweeted that it was “interesting that Katie Miller poked fun at our request for a Plexiglas barrier during the debate stage,” adding that Mr. Pence was “allegedly for the Covid-19 task Force is responsible and should work for it “.

It won’t be the first time Plexiglas has appeared in a debate. Over the weekend, South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison brought his own plexiglass screen to debate Republican rival Lindsey Graham.

Other measures outlined by the CPD require viewers to undergo Covid tests and wear masks throughout the debate. Anyone who refuses to wear a mask will be “escorted,” the commission added.

Last Tuesday, Mr Trump and his challenger Joe Biden clashed for over 90 minutes in one of the most chaotic and bitter White House debates in US history.

Local Cleveland, Ohio regulations required everyone in the room to wear masks. Of the President’s family members present, however, only U.S. First Lady Melania Trump wore face-covering during the debate.

Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., Eric and Tiffany Trump were seen without a mask for most of the evening.

The second presidential debate is currently on October 15 and the third on October 22.

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