With coronavirus cases surging in Florida, Republicans are planning to move the three nights of their national convention from an indoor arena to an outdoor venue in Jacksonville, but it’s still unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the events, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.
Officials met Monday night to discuss shifting the events of Aug. 25, 26, and 27 out of the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, where the indoor program was scheduled to take place, including President Trump’s acceptance speech on the final night. The two outdoor options they’ve been examining are near the arena, the people familiar with the discussions said.
Mr. Trump often shifts positions, and officials emphasized that the plans could change.
Officials remain uncertain about whether a capacity crowd would be allowed to attend outdoor events, or if there would be restrictions to prevent people from being too close to one another.
The plan to move the activities outdoors was made after a meeting that Mr. Trump held with political advisers on Monday evening. It’s a change from what Mr. Trump had envisioned when he forced the Republican National Committee to abandon plans in Charlotte, N.C., because officials there refused to guarantee the type of pre-coronavirus event the president wanted, absent restrictions on social distancing.
But as Florida deals with a new outbreak of virus infections, Jacksonville presents more serious challenges than Charlotte did. Many Republican elected officials and delegates, responding to a survey from The New York Times, said they would take a wait-and-see approach on whether they will attend, or would skip the event altogether. Other delegates, however, said they would definitely attend and would be honored to help renominate Mr. Trump.
Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville was asked in a news conference on Tuesday about Republicans remaining wary about traveling to the convention, given the health risks that could be involved.
“We have many weeks til the convention,” Mr. Curry said. “We’re monitoring the situation and we’ll plan accordingly, based on hospitalizations, community spread, et cetera.”
Fund-raising for the convention has been “strong,” Mr. Curry said, adding that he did not have an exact figure. He pegged it at “tens of millions” of dollars.
The mayor said he tested negative for the virus. He had previously been self-isolating with his family after he learned that he had been exposed to someone who was infected.
The planned move outdoors for nighttime events is the latest complication for G.O.P. convention officials. Fund-raisers in Jacksonville have described a challenging environment as donors balk at giving to an event threatened by a health crisis, or donating a second time after having already contributed to the Charlotte convention.
And Mr. Trump may still not get the full-throated, restriction-free celebration he was seeking: The city of Jacksonville is requiring facial coverings in any public space where social distancing is not possible, and the host committee said every attendee within the convention perimeter “will be tested and temperature checked each day.’’
Patricia Mazzei contributed reporting from Miami.