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Revised protocols in place at House of Assembly

Revised protocols in place at House of Assembly
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and other members of Parliament escorting Governor General Dame Susan Dougan from the House of Assembly after her delivery of the Throne Speech yesterday.

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All Members of Parliament (MP’s), regardless of their vaccination status, were required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test in order to enter the House of Assembly chambers for the 2022 Budget presentation, yesterday.

And from the sitting on January 11 and the remainder of the meeting of the House, all unvaccinated members, as well as members who have been exposed to a known COVID-19 positive person are required to present a negative rapid antigen test result.

This test is to be done on the morning prior to the sitting of the House, no later than 8:50am on all subsequent mornings of the sitting of the House.

This is outlined in the most recent revision of the House’s COVID-19 protocols which officially came into effect on January 5.

They were revised for several reasons: the limited capacity for enhanced ventilation of the chamber and the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in the week commencing January 3, 2022 with the associated increased risk of exposure and the detection of the Omicron variant in SVG.

“A testing booth will be set up for the duration of the sittings of the House of Assembly, where (1) any member or person connected with the sitting can be tested in the event that symptoms suggestive with Covid-19 develop; (2) any member who has been exposed to a known COVID-19 positive person will be tested and (3) the rapid antigen tests (commencing January 11, 2022) will be administered to unvaccinated members of the House,” the revised protocol reads.

This testing booth was operational yesterday, Monday January 10 from 2:00p.m. It will also be operational today, January 11 from 8:00a.m.

Each member is required to wear an N95/KN95 face mask at all times while in the chamber and sanitise their hands upon entry into the Parliamentary chamber.

Following the finance minister’s Budget presentation yesterday, the chamber was sanitised by Ministry of health officials.

And sanitisation of the chamber is expected to take place daily at four-hour intervals as is practical. According to the protocols, this process will take approximately 30 minutes.

A speaking booth was installed at the House of Assembly in October 2021 to facilitate contributions made by unvaccinated members or members who have not revealed their vaccination status.

Members on the opposition benches have repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction with this arrangement and their preference to remain in their given seats to make contributions during sittings of Parliament.

According to the revised protocols, this booth will remain in place and be available to unvaccinated members to make contributions, regardless of the length. They are also permitted to remove their masks only while utilising the speaking booth.

Meanwhile, vaccinated members are permitted to make contributions from their seats and are permitted to remove their masks for the duration of their contribution only.

Media personnel as well as law enforcement officials permitted in and around the Chamber are required to be fully vaccinated and masked with an N95/KN95 mask at all times.

Evidence of vaccination must be presented to the Clerk of the House for the attention of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, no later than two days prior to the sitting.

Restrictions on visitors to the public gallery will continue.

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