The Commons has just announced a new swathe of Covid-fighting measures will be introduced as the number of cases seen on the estate begin to creep up. Naming no names (Ferrier)…
As you are aware, numbers of Covid-19 cases are beginning to rise in London, and unfortunately, we have experienced a small number of cases on the Parliamentary Estate.
As your safety and wellbeing is our top priority, I called a special meeting of the House of Commons Commission today to discuss ways to protect our parliamentary village – while keeping the business of the House going. The Commission is trying to keep the House functioning in the safest way possible, within the remit of its responsibilities and following guidance from Public Health England.
Just as we have all had to wear them in the supermarkets and on public transport, the Commission strongly advises that everyone wears a face covering when moving around the estate.
This is particularly important when social distancing is difficult, when walking from one building to another, and when queuing to buy food and drink in catering outlets.
Staff and Members are not expected to wear face coverings in meetings or when working in their office. Members are not expected to wear face coverings in the Chamber but I would advise they wear them in the lobbies during a division.
We’ve all seen the signs, but not everyone is maintaining a two-metre distance from their colleagues, which is about the height of the average door. It’s for everyone’s safety, so please keep your distance and I would ask you to co-operate with staff who have been asked to remind colleagues of the rules.
To reduce unnecessary gathering in Members’ Lobby and at the back of the chair, parliamentary staff are looking at the possibility of splitting out the ‘ayes and no’ voting queues – and creating a division lobby in a different place near the Chamber.
To give added reassurance to staff and MPs, we will soon be installing Perspex screens at the end of Government and Opposition benches in the Chamber near the Speaker’s chair, at the end of the clerks’ table and to one side of the Serjeant’s chair.
Finally, to keep you safe and to maintain our COVID-19 secure status – please do not travel to or enter Parliament if you have COVID symptoms, which include a new and persistent cough, fever, or loss of taste/smell.
If you feel unwell or have received a positive test result, please inform your manager/ whip and plan your return home (which in the first instance is your London accommodation), preferably using private transport and while wearing a face covering.
Do then contact our test and trace team by emailing [—-]@parliament.uk or phoning (0207 219) XXXX. The team will guide you through what to do next.
I would encourage you all to take personal responsibility for keeping yourself and your staff safe. This includes following closely the guidance communicated yesterday and displayed on posters across the Estate.
With warmest wishes,
Sir Lindsay Hoyle
Speaker of the House of Commons