Oregon State Capitol building, May 18, 2021. The capitol was completed in 1938 and is topped with a gilded bronze statue of the Oregon Pioneer.

Oregon State Capitol building, May 18, 2021. The capitol was completed in 1938 and is topped with a gilded bronze statue of the Oregon Pioneer.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

The Oregon Capitol will remain open to the public when lawmakers convene Feb. 1 for a monthlong session.

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In a joint statement Monday, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek announced that while all legislative committee meetings during the upcoming 2022 session will take place virtually, the public will be allowed in the building.

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Kotek and Courtney issued a statement last week expressing concern over the omicron variant of COVID-19 and troubling projections by doctors at Oregon Health & Science University. The two presiding officers of the Oregon Legislature clarified their stance Monday.

“We are committed to ensuring the legislative process is accessible and safe during the upcoming session,” the statement said. “The recent wave of cases and hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant is concerning. After speaking directly with OHSU infectious disease doctors and public health officials, we decided to move our committees to a virtual format.”

Oregonians will be able to enter the Capitol during regular business hours and may watch legislative proceedings from the galleries of either chamber located on the third floor.

Committee meetings will be livestreamed on the Legislature’s information site, and public testimony will be accepted in written format and via video or phone.

According to Monday’s release, all Capitol visitors will be required to comply with public health and safety guidance which includes wearing masks inside to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Capitol employees who can work remotely have been asked to do so during the session to help curb the spread of the virus which continues with the new omicron variant.

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