Trump’s Oklahoma rally can go ahead, court rules

Trump supporters have begun camping outside the arena

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court has ruled that President Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday in Tulsa, his first since March, can go ahead.

A lawsuit to stop the 20 June rally over concerns that it could raise the spread of Covid-19 locally was filed this week.

Virus cases are rising in Oklahoma, and local health officials have expressed concerns over hosting the rally.

The Trump campaign says they received over 1m ticket requests for the big event.

The queue for the event at the Bank of Oklahoma Center – which seats 19,000 people – began forming early in the day this week.

Facing tough re-election prospects in November, the president is hoping to reboot his campaign following a rocky week that has seen news of sinking opinion poll numbers, twin US Supreme Court defeats, two damning tell-all memoirs and a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

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The lawsuit to cancel his rally was filed for local residents and organizations who had argued the venue should mandate social distancing instructions in accordance with US public health officials’ tips, or cancel the event.

But the Supreme Court said that as the state had begun to reopen, the regulations left social distancing decisions up to individual business owners.

In a reaction to safety concerns, the Trump campaign has said they’ll check attendees’ temperatures and gives hand sanitiser and masks.

But people buying tickets for the Tulsa rally on line also have to click a waiver confirming they “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19” and certainly will not support the president’s campaign responsible for “any illness or injury”.

The president himself has pushed back against guidance around masks, calling them your own choice.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has also said that while attendees will soon be given masks, they will not learn to put them on – and told reporters on Friday that she’s going to not be wearing one either.

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Tulsa’s mayor imposed a curfew on Thursday around the venue, declaring a civil emergency, but the president says the town leader has assured him the measure will not affect the rally itself.

Mayor GT Bynum, a Republican, cited recent “civil unrest” and potential opposition protests as that he slapped an exclusion zone on a six-block radius near the arena.

But on Friday afternoon, Mr Bynum said that the Secret Service had asked the city to lift the curfew.

“Last night, I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received,” the mayor said in a statement.

“Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it.”

Earlier on Friday, President Trump, also a Republican, posted a warning on Twitter to demonstrators.

“Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis,” the president tweeted.

“It will be a much different scene!”

Tulsa’s health department director Dr Bruce Dart told the Tulsa World paper: “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”

Mr Trump originally in the offing to hold the rally on Friday, but changed the date after learning it fell on Juneteenth, the celebration of the end people slavery.

The president told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday a black Secret Service agent had told him this is of the anniversary.

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