LONDON (AFP) - The British parliament is expected to close on Wednesday (March 25) because of the coronavirus outbreak, with MPs sent home a week early for their Easter break.
The government has put forward a motion for the House of Commons, the lower elected chamber, to shut at the end of Wednesday's proceedings until April 21.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC it was a "sensible" decision given the nationwide shut down of non-essential shops and services and the government order for people to stay at home.
"Obviously parliament has to lead by example," he said, adding that it was also important to protect staff from the spread of infection of Covid-19.
But he said he was "certain that parliament will return after the Easter holidays", saying it was important for lawmakers to scrutinise the government.
Emergency legislation giving the government powers to force people into isolation has been pushed through parliament this week and is expected to become law on Wednesday.
Before MPs head home, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have his final head-to-head in the Commons against opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, before the latter steps down.
A new Labour leader will be announced on April 4, with Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer the favourite to take over.