Plexiglass and 12 feet apart: Mike Pence, Kamala Harris have new rules for vice presidential debate

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday evening that plexiglass will be used at Wednesday’s debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

The changes come after President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and several White House staffers and allies have tested positive for COVID-19 days after the first presidential debate last week in Cleveland.

At the first presidential debate, Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's podiums were separated by more than 6 feet but the two candidates did not wear masks during the debate.

Unlike the presidential debate, Pence and Harris will be seated and will be 12 feet and 3 inches apart. The commission also noted that there will be a variety of health safety protocols for everyone in the debate hall, including COVID-19 testing and the use of masks. Those who do not wear a mask will be escorted out, according to the commission.

Trump was hospitalized for three days for COVID-19 and has since returned to the White House Monday evening. He reportedly arrived at the debate too late to be tested for the virus, according to moderator Chris Wallace. Several members of the Trump family also did not wear masks inside the debate hall.

The vice presidential debate will be held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, candidates have had to adapt how they campaign and even debate. For example, Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison of South Carolina put a plexiglass barrier between him and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham at their debate Saturday evening.

Two more presidential debates are scheduled, with the second debate in Miami on Oct. 15 and the third debate in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22.

Biden has tested negative for COVID-19 since debating with the president last week, with his last negative test on Sunday. The former vice president is participating in a NBC town hall Monday evening in Miami.