House Speaker Pelosi enacts face mask mandate on Capitol Hill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of Calif., speaks during her weekly briefing, Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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UPDATED 9:22 AM PT – Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been pushing a new congressional mask mandate while threatening to silence those that do not comply. During the House’s pro forma session Tuesday, she announced an update to social distancing policies she previously unveiled.

“Accordingly, masks will now be required at all times in the hall of the House without exception, including while members are under recognition,” announced the Speaker.

Under the new mandate, representatives and hill staffers will be required to wear a mask whenever they are conducting business on the hill. For lawmakers, Pelosi’s apparent definition of “conducting business” includes everything from walking the hallways to giving speeches on the House floor with failure to comply resulting in speaker-sponsored censorship.

“To be clear, members will not be recognized unless they are wearing a mask and recognition will be withdrawn if they remove the mask while speaking,” she noted. “The chair appreciates the continued attention of all members and staff to these principles.”

The new mandate is not the first such measure from the Speaker, but marks a dramatic increase in the consequences for members who do not perfectly adhere to her standards. Back in July, failing to wear a mask, which was only required when a representative was in the chamber and not speaking, amounted to a “serious breach of decorum.”

Some representatives have already spoken out against the mandate, including congresswoman elect Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia’s 14th District who took to Twitter Monday to call the move an “oppressive violation” of her rights.

The mandate comes amid reports that Pelosi is demanding all Democrat lawmakers appear in-person in January when the full House will vote to elect the speaker.

Pelosi, who has held the position since the Democrats took the House in 2018, must win a majority of the votes cast in the election in order to maintain her seat. Meanwhile, Republicans have been vying to take it over.

“I think there will be a move on the floor to have her no longer or the question of her being speaker,” stated Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R), House Minority Leader.

The Democrats currently hold a 222-to-210 majority over the Republicans with two races unresolved. However, both the race for New York’s 22nd District and Iowa’s Second District are leaning in favor of the respective Republican candidate. This could lead to a single-digit lead in the House, which could be reduced even further in the event of absences or defections.

Upon her first election to the position, Pelosi promised to only serve two-terms and has dodged questions on why she is now running for a third time. The vote for Speaker is slated for January 3, 2021.

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NT footballers share sweat management tips as NTFL enacts heat policy ahead of weekend

Participating in a tradition that began over a century ago, Northern Territory footballer Daniel Fitzgerald will solemnly apply sunblock today before playing a match in heat that turns his size 12 boots into swinging pools of sweat.

For the second consecutive Saturday, Territory footballers like Fitzgerald will play in temperatures in the mid-30s — a forecast prompting league administrators to implement its extreme heat policy across all matches this weekend.

The string of measures the AFL Northern Territory will employ to keep players safe in the heat includes shortening quarters, extending breaks and providing fans for interchange benches.

While the heat mitigation measures will provide some respite to the 36C forecast, Fitzgerald is already resigned to sunburn.

“When the sun is beating down and it’s 35 degrees with 80 per cent humidity during a 2:00pm game, there’s only one word to describe it — brutal,” says Fitzgerald, who plays in the ruck for the Darwin Buffaloes in Division 1.

“I literally douse myself in 50+ SPF sunscreen, particularly my shoulders and face — this has to be done before warming up, otherwise I’ll be too sweaty to apply it properly.

“Regardless of what I do, I always get at least a little sunburnt.

“At the end of one game, so much sweat had run down into my boots that it felt like I had walked through a puddle.”

The Northern Territory Football League will be operating under the league’s Extreme Weather Policy this weekend.(Supplied: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media)

Nightcliff Women’s Premier League player Mickayla Ward, who is the former captain of the Western Bulldogs VFLW team in Victoria, remembers near-hail and “freezing” conditions as she ran around a Melbourne oval to stay warm in Winter 2019.

Last Saturday, she was playing footy during a heatwave as declared by the Bureau of Meteorology.


“It is crazy. It’s such extreme conditions,” she said.

“I find that you’re often feeling quite overheated. That’s why on the bench you have the ice towels, you have the fans, you have the cool rooms at TIO stadium.”

Ward says that by the night before the game she will be deep into her hydration routine, and by the warm-up her jersey is already drenched in sweat.

“Preparation for any sport performance is crucial but up here I think it is so much more crucial the day before with your water intake, that you are getting in your Gatorade, because as soon as you get out there you are sweating it out,” she said.

“It’s so important because you actually really struggle up here, and the humidity adds to it, it’s either direct sunlight and you’re hot at 35 degrees, or its 35 degrees and raining with high humidity — so either way your body temperature out on that ground is extreme.”

Yet Ward has no qualms about playing in the searing conditions

“I certainly am a believer in I’ve chosen to play in the NT, so I’ll hydrate myself the day before, the day of, and get out there and get the job done,” she said.

Ward’s coach, Shannon Miller, says she is big on preparing her players for the conditions and affording them every opportunity to rest and thermoregulate.

Two players run across the footy field during the day in the Northern Territory.
The NTFL’s heat policy includes permitting clubs to have an extra two water carriers and providing ice vests to umpires.(Supplied: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media)

She stresses high rotations on the bench, advocates a sensible Hydralyte intake, and tries to keep her players in the shade wherever possible during breaks.

“And I’m big at half time to let them have a moment have a drink and just let them compose themselves for a bit,” she said.

Ryan Pendlebury, who currently plays with Port Melbourne in the VFL and has joined the Darwin Buffaloes for the 2020/21 season, says you need to play slightly differently in the Territory to avoid weather-induced mistakes.

“It’s hot but also wet, which is a weird combination. The ball, it’s like it’s been raining all day,” he said.

“Personally, I usually try and mark everything but it’s a little different here because the ball is so wet. I’ve sort of started to figure out that the ball is a bar of soap and you have to mark it on your chest.”

Pendlebury says he doesn’t prepare too differently to his games in Victoria — but hydration, he says, is non-negotiable: “You have to really concentrate on making sure you are hydrating, otherwise it won’t turn out too well.”

Thermal performance expert Dr Matt Brearly, who is renowned for his research into physiological responses to heat exposure, says elite players will intuitively slow down to adjust for the high match temperatures.

A man stands outside looking downwards, wearing a checkered shirt.
Dr Matt Brearly says less experienced footballers should avoid intense heat.(ABC News)

This, he says, effectively mitigates the impact of the hot conditions on their performance and reduces the likelihood of heat stress.

“Generally the senior players, while the heat impacts them, that knowledge and experience with playing in the Territory will modify how hard they work,” Dr Brearly said.

Dr Brearly says while he doesn’t have an issue with wet-season footy where games are invariably played in temperatures above 30C, he does have an issue with playing in a heatwave in the middle of the day,

“These might be developing athletes, these might be recreational athletes that are past their prime,” Dr Brearly said.

“We’re putting our kids at risk … I think we can do better.”

While league administrators AFLNT say they are working towards fixturing more night games (new lights installed at Gardens, Bagot and Nightcliff ovals will help the cause), the league will push ahead with matches during the current heatwave under its Extreme Heat Protocols.

To prepare for today’s match, Cameron Ilett, the Northern Territory’s pre-eminent footballer of the last 20 years, says his preparation started a week ago.

“If you want to get really deep into it, what you do after the game the previous week is where it starts, in terms of putting the right fuels in the body,” he said.

Thunder forward Cameron Ilett hand passes
Cameron Ilett is a veteran of the Northern Territory Football League.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)

Ilett, who has played more than 350 games in Territory footy teams, has a few tips for the kids who run out on the field for wet-season footy.

“It’s about working smarter, not harder,” Ilett says of playing winning football in the heat.

“It comes down to picking and choosing the right moments to try and have an impact in the contest.

“You don’t have the ability to make every contest: it’s about thinking ahead and trying to get to the next phase of play.”

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