The Mississippi Legislature is scheduled to return to the state Capitol in January, however this year, like the last, will be different given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Usually, lawmakers are joined by business and special interest groups set up in the rotunda. These entities reserve space in the Capitol throughout the session to promote their interests, which many times have a direct correlation with what legislation lawmakers are working on.

A decision made by the Department of Finance and Administration who manage the reservations of these spaces has put a hiatus on this practice.

DFA says the cancelations were made in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. No future reservations for indoor or outdoor events at the Capitol are currently being accepted for 2021.

In a statement to Y’all Politics, DFA said:

“Due to the unprecedented public health crisis we are facing as a result of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration made the decision to suspend reservations during the 2021 Legislative Session. 

“The decision was made to reduce the number of individuals occupying the common spaces of the Capitol Building at any time in an effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines of the Mississippi State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to ensure the safety of the Capitol staff, legislators and visitors to the Capitol Building.” 

When Legislators postponed the 2020 session at the start of the pandemic, future scheduled events were also cancelled even as members resumed work in June.

Scheduled tours offered by Capitol volunteers have also been stopped.

The Capitol remains a public building that is still open to the public if they wish to visit and go on self guided tours.