The Massachusetts State House has a tentative reopening date, according to Senate Speaker Karen Spilka’s office
The Massachusetts State House, which is on its 702nd consecutive day of being closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, finally has a tentative reopening date.
Senate Speaker Karen Spilka is aiming for Feb. 22, though key logistical details — including whether the public will need to attest to their COVID vaccination status to enter the building — remain an open question.
But even if the building is not fully reopened to the public, Spilka “would like to invite” members of the public to attend the Senate session scheduled for February 22, said Antonio Caban, spokesman for the President of the Senate.
“Conversations continue to progress and we remain confident that we can finalize points on a full reopening soon, but instead of this agreement, the Senate is preparing to allow the public to view its sessions,” Caban told MassLive Thursday after -midday. “The President of the Senate is confident in the reopening and is optimistic that it can be done fully by the 22nd.”
Governor Charlie Baker reiterated to reporters Wednesday that he believes the long-closed State House should be opened. But that decision is up to Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano, since “it’s their building,” the governor said at a State House press conference.
“The rest of the state government is open,” Baker said. “People do business in state office buildings around the Commonwealth.”
Mariano signaled last month that proof of vaccination could be a critical part of the reopening strategy. He expressed concern about visitors entering the State House as a stop on the Freedom Trail.
Mariano’s comments came as the Baker administration unveiled an optional digital vaccination passport that residents can use instead of relying on their physical vaccination card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A spokeswoman for Mariano did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday on the reopening of the House chamber.
Baker opposes the implementation of a statewide vaccination mandate — and on Wednesday Baker told reporters he also does not support a State House vaccine requirement.
Still, Spilka this week doubled his vaccinations.
“In order to open safely and protect the health of all of our visitors, employees and members, I believe we need to establish a vaccine requirement and require those entering the State House to wear masks when visiting. “, Spilka said in a statement. Tuesday. “These protocols and timeline for reopening remain under discussion.”