Health guidelines issued for holding Parliament; all MPs to wear masks
Director-General of Health Services, Dr. Anil Jasinghe handed over the 'Operational Guidelines on Preparedness and Response for COVID-19 Outbreak for the Parliament' to Secretary-General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake on Friday (31).
The document, which contains 21 guidelines, includes the requirement that all MPs in the chamber wear their face masks at all times. It also states that MPs should not remove or lower the mask when addressing Parliament, and remain within the Chamber during sessions.
The guidelines further make it mandatory for all MPs to sit only in their designated seats. When not seated, they are required to maintain a one-metre distance from each other at all times in the Chamber.
Furthermore, sanitisers will be kept at every entrance to the Chamber, and Members of Parliament and officials will need to wash their hands before entering.
MPs are mandated to follow these guidelines at Committee meetings as well. The need of wearing masks whenever possible was also emphasised.
In addition, the guidelines include that MPs should not exchange personal items, such as mobile devices, headphones, pens, etc., with others, and avoid contact in greetings, such as hugging and shaking hands.
Addressing the gathering, Dr. Jasinghe said these guidelines were devised to ensure the safe functioning of Parliament, and are prepared to cover all its sections.
He further explained that the guidelines were formulated on the request of the Secretary-General of Parliament, adding that this was the third set of guidelines prepared by the Health Ministry for this purpose.
He assured that when the 09th Parliament convenes after the General Election, all 225 MPs could be seated safely in the Chamber.
These guidelines have been prepared to cover a number of locations in Parliament, including the Chamber of Parliament, Members Lounge, Public, Media and Special Guests Gallery, Members' Restaurants, Library, Kitchens and Staff Cafeteria, while guidelines have also been issued for transportation services and office-cleaning staff.
Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of Parliament, Neil Iddawala and other high-ranking Parliament officials were present at the occasion.