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House adjusts format for dinner with new members after criticism

House adjusts format for dinner with new members after criticism
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The House changed the format for a dinner it had planned to hold for new members inside the Capitol on Friday after receiving criticism that the event was unsafe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.), said the dinner had been greenlighted by the Capitol’s attending physician but that members would now be allowed to get their meals to-go so they can eat in a safe manner and “be a further model for the nation.” 

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The House held new member orientation Friday for those who will be joining the chamber in the next Congress. Members and representatives-elect followed health guidance throughout the day, including wearing masks and socially distancing. But the event came under criticism after a picture of the setup in Statuary Hall was circulated on social media, with detractors saying the event did not adequately follow social distancing measures. 

“This is so stupid,” tweeted CNN host S.E. Cupp.

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Others defended the event, noting that the dinner would have kept with the way guidelines are being followed in Washington, D.C.

“Don’t see what the issue is here. Restaurants in D.C. are open,” said former Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloHouse Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members House adjusts format for dinner with new members after criticism Former GOP congressman calls for Biden to receive presidential briefings MORE (R-Fla.).

Members traveled to D.C. from across the country this year for orientation, arriving to face increased health and safety measures amid the pandemic that past classes have not had to endure.

The number of members gathering in one place has put heightened scrutiny on the event as the nation battles a third wave of coronavirus. The U.S. set a new single-day record of infections on Thursday.