Several Florida attorneys filed a lawsuit in Jacksonsville against the city to block or enforce restrictions on the Republican National Convention set to take place in August at a local arena amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Among a list of reasons against the city hosting the event, the complaint argues that the event which will congregate thousands of people in and around the Jacksonville arena “under the circumstances and practices encouraged and required by the Republican National Committee and its leadership to be a nuisance injurious to the health, welfare and property rights of plaintiffs, in particular, and the health and welfare of the community of Jacksonville.”
The suit also argues that the gathering of people in close proximity inside the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena whose capacity is 15,000 will “result in massive spread of COVID-19″ among participants unless the court steps in to restrict it, a local Jacksonville news station reported.
The lawsuit comes after Florida broke an earlier record last Saturday for the most new coronavirus cases in a single day – reporting roughly 11,500 new infections. The state now ranks among the highest for new reported cases of the coronavirus in the United States.
The plaintiffs in the suit also warn that unless the court issues a restriction, the gathering of thousands of people in close proximity is likely to “result in massive spread of COVID-19 among the persons in attendance and throughout the City of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida and interfere in Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property and right to be free of infliction of disease and death.”
The existing plan for convention, which is slotted for the end of August, will involve President Trump accepting the Republican nomination for a second-term and giving a speech at the Jacksonville arena on the last day of the convention. Event organizers have said that safety measures including daily temperature checks will be in place to protect attendees.
The city of Jacksonville said last week that its residents would be required to wear face coverings in public as well as indoors where social distancing is not possible.
If the court declares the event a nuisance, the complaint asks that the arena remain closed to the event, or if opened, that admission be capped at 2,500 people. It also demands that attendees be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has been criticized in recent weeks for downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus which has begun to overwhelm some of the state’s hospitals as staff stretch resources and stake out ways to accommodate the deluge of COVID-19 patients.