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Coronavirus prompts cancellation of state legislative sessions, public tours of Capitol

The General Assembly was set to return to session in Springfield next Wednesday, the day after Tuesday’s primary. This week, the Senate canceled its three scheduled committee hearings in Chicago over public health concerns. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his budget address in the Illinois House in Springfield last month.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his budget address in the Illinois House in Springfield last month.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

Public tours of the state Capitol in Springfield and next week’s legislative sessions were all canceled Wednesday as concerns over “the spread of this virus.”

“We will continue to work together to assess the situation,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker told reporters in Chicago after the state Senate and House announced legislators would not be meeting next week because of coronavirus concerns.

Senate President Don Harmon announced the decision Wednesday, saying the Legislature needs to practice “social distancing.”

“Given the recommendations for social distancing as a safeguard to slow the spread of this virus, the Illinois Senate is going to do its part,” the Oak Park Democrat said in a statement.

The General Assembly was set to return to session in Springfield next Wednesday, the day after Tuesday’s primary. This week, the Senate canceled its three scheduled committee hearings in Chicago, also over public health concerns.

As of Wednesday, all legislative sessions for next week were canceled.

And Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced his office was canceling all other events that had been scheduled to take place at the Capitol in Springfield as a “precautionary measure” to limit the spread of the coronavirus. That includes lobby day events as well as tours of the Capitol.

Harmon cited an earlier decision by the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians to cancel its lobby day event next week at the Capitol in Springfield as a reason for his decision.

“When the state association for emergency doctors cancels its Capitol visit citing public health concerns, it should give us all reason to re-examine our schedules and priorities,” Harmon said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Pritzker announced six additional cases of coronavirus in Illinois, bringing the total of confirmed cases in the state to 25.

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles