Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, covers his heart while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance on March 10, 2021 at the Augusta Civic Center. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — The full Maine Legislature will convene three times in February to vote on bills, but committee work will continue to be done virtually, legislative leaders said Friday.

Senate President Troy Jackson said that reducing the number of in-person meetings will be more efficient — and potentially reduce the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

“Given the sheer number of bills that remain in the committee process, it simply does not make sense for the Maine Legislature to meet in full more frequently in February. While it would be good to see friends and colleagues, it would not be a good use of time or taxpayer dollars,” said Jackson, D-Allagash.

Eventually, lawmakers want to adopt a hybrid committee meeting model — if COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations drop.

“I’m hopeful because this week, the Maine CDC indicated that as hospitalizations from COVID-19 trend downward, we may start seeing it become safer to gather together,” said House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford.