Biden tells Trump to 'listen to the scientists' and calls for nationwide mask rule to prevent coronavirus spread

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence will debate with plexiglass shield between them

Move for extra protection came after request from Democratic campaign

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 06 October 2020 01:00

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence will debate with a plexiglass shield between them to prevent any spread of coronavirus.

The move for extra protection at Wednesday’s vice presidential debate came after a request from the Biden-Harris campaign, according to CNN.

It will be the first debate since Donald Trump was hospitalised with Covid-19 and an outbreak spread through the White House.

A decision to install the shield between Ms Harris and Mr Pence was made on Monday by the Commission on Presidential Debates in consultation with medical experts from the Cleveland Clinic.

The debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the only one between the pair ahead of election day.

Both politicians, who will now be placed more than 12ft apart, have repeatedly tested negative for the coronavirus following Mr Trump’s diagnosis.

Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison brought his own plexiglass shield to a debate with Senator Lindsey Graham in South Carolina on Saturday.

The commission’s decision was mocked by Mr Pence’s team.

“If Sen Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it," said Mr Pence’s  spokeswoman Katie Miller.

The event will be 90 minutes long without commercial breaks, and will be broken into nine 10-minute segments. There will be no opening or closing statements, no handshakes, no masks and only a "small number of ticketed guests".

The future of the remaining two presidential debates is still unknown, with the second event scheduled for 15 October.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CNN that “it is the President's intention to debate” in Miami, Florida.

Mr Biden’s campaign said on Monday that it expects “the commission and the Cleveland Clinic to ensure these debates happen safely and we fully intend on debating Donald Trump should the medical experts believe it can be done safely.”

The committee is also considering making one or both of the remaining debates virtual so the candidates could take part from different locations, according to CNN.

The commission has a new policy that will require everyone but the candidates and moderator to wear masks throughout the event.

The Trump family refused to wear masks at the first presidential debate and other audience members removed them during the event.

Now anyone not following that rule will be escorted from the debates.

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