Parliament takes additional measures to prevent spread of Covid-19

This move is an additional precaution to reduce the density of people in the Chamber, said Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Members of Parliament who are close contacts of Covid-19 cases, but have tested negative for the virus so far, will now sit at the public galleries in Parliament House and deliver their speeches there.

This move is an additional precaution to reduce the density of people in the Chamber, said Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin on Monday (March 7), at the start of the day's sitting.

It comes after at least eight MPs came down with the virus last week and had to skip the ongoing debate on the budgets of government ministries.

They are: Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan, People's Action Party backbenchers Carrie Tan, Gan Thiam Poh, Cheng Li Hui and Alex Yam, as well as Workers' Party MPs Sylvia Lim and He Ting Ru.

At present, MPs are spaced at least one seat apart, and spread out across the main Chamber, Speakers' Gallery and Press Gallery.

Now, all those who have been in close contact with a Covid-19 case will deliver their speeches from the public galleries on the third floor. Rostrums have been placed there, with MPs also staying one seat apart and remaining masked when not speaking.

Similar arrangements were put in place during the circuit breaker period in the early days of the pandemic, Mr Tan said. "While the Covid-19 situation today is not the same, we will maintain vigilance out of an abundance of caution," he added.

Ms Indranee, who is Leader of the House, noted that the arrangements were made because some affected MPs had taken a leave of absence as a precaution, even though they are allowed to leave their homes once they have tested negative.

“As situations change, we just need to adapt along the way,” she said in a Facebook post, adding that Parliament will review the situation when it sees a decline in the number of MPs who have been in close contact with a Covid-19 patient, or contracted the virus themselves. 

“The most important thing, however, is to keep the parliamentary business going, so that Parliament can continue its role of serving the nation.”

Members of the public who want to follow the proceedings will now do so via a live screening at the Parliament auditorium. They can also watch the live stream of the debates online.

"Let us continue to exercise personal responsibility by monitoring our health closely and strictly adhering to the appropriate testing regimes," Mr Tan said.

"In doing so, everyone's safety and well-being remain paramount as we proceed with our parliamentary business."

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