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As Texas Republicans prepare to convene in Houston next month to decide the party’s platform and rules and to elect party officers, questions have arisen over whether the event will proceed as planned given the new restrictions imposed by state and local governments.

Just this week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would once again restrain hospitals in several urban counties from performing elective surgeries, and local governments have implemented Abbott’s mask order to compel citizens to wear masks in businesses. 

And on Thursday, Abbott announced a “temporary pause” on further phases of reopening. 

That includes Harris County, the home of the City of Houston and the 2020 Texas GOP convention. On Monday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced her jurisdiction would impose Abbott’s mask order on citizens, requiring businesses to require staff and customers over the age of 19 to wear a mask or face a potential $1,000 fine for each violation.

But as of just yesterday, Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey was telling Texas Republicans to begin preparations to attend the convention, and that masks are currently optional but not required.

“As I’ve said all along, people are welcome to wear masks if they wish, and they’re welcome not to wear masks,” Dickey said in an interview with USA Today Network’s John Moritz. “We encourage everyone to take precautions they feel they need to when it comes to masks, just like you should with hand sanitizer and social distancing guidelines.”

According to the interview, while masks remain optional, prudent steps have been taken to make individuals feel safer and more comfortable going about party business:

“Dickey, who said that he wears a mask when he might come into close contact with others, said the party has doubled the space it had planned to reserve for the convention so that official meetings and gathering can be conducted without cramming people together.

 

“Medical personnel will be on hand, as will hand sanitizers and masks for those who want them.”

Conducted in Houston from July 13-18, the Texas GOP convention is the largest political convention in the Western world when measured by voting delegates. At the convention this July, party activists will ratify a new platform, adopt new rules, and choose their leadership for the next two years.

Perhaps the most high-profile event will be the race to lead the Texas GOP. Incumbent Dickey is seeking re-election to the position and being challenged by former Congressman and retired Lt. Col. Allen West for the post.