As Governor Begins Reopening Businesses, State Capitol Remains Closed

Apr 24, 2020

Governor Kevin Stitt's plans to begin opening businesses like salons and restaurants does not include any direction for when to reopen the Oklahoma State Capitol.

The Capitol has been closed to the public since mid-March, when a legislative staffer tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

State lawmakers have been working mostly remotely, attending committee hearings via videoconference. Floor votes concerning the state's $417 million budget hole were held in person, but with only a limited number of legislators allowed in the chamber at one time, with some voting by proxy.

"If we have social distancing and people feel comfortable coming in, maybe that's a possibility," Stitt said. "But I know at this point it's closed down to the public."

State Chamber of Oklahoma president and CEO Chad Warmington, the head of the governor's Bounce Back Advisory Group, said that there's no rush to reopen the capitol because Oklahomans can still call, email, or write their legislators.

"If there wasn't a way to communicate with legislative leaders and staff and the governor, then that would be a problem," Warmington said. "But I think we all know there is the ability to do that, and I think those lines of communication have been very open."