Parliament Issues New Guidelines To Contain COVID-19 Spread

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Anita Among chairing her first session in speakership seat (Parliament Photo)

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among has issued new guidelines on the conduct of business in parliament in light of the surge in the COVID-19 cases.

In her communication to the plenary sitting this morning, Among said that the new measures take effect and that communication has been made to all heads of departments in the Legislature.

“In response to the threat of COVID-19, specifically within Legislature, a raft of measures have been put in place and communicated to all heads of department in this institution. And these measures include down scaling of the number of staff that are physically present within the precincts of parliament to 20 percent,” she said.

Uganda has since June 1st registered a high number of COVID-19 cases and latest data from the Ministry of Health shows that the new cases have increased the total number of infections to 63,099 and total number of deaths to 434.

Besides scaling down on the number of parliament staff, Among directed Members of Parliament to strictly observe the Standard Operating Procedures –SOPs like washing hands and sanitizing before accessing the parliament building as well as maintaining a distance from each other.

Among also noted that consultations are currently underway with relevant authorities to evaluate the fate of the House sittings during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I will communicate the subsequent decisions that will have been arrived at with other authorities like Ministry of Health regarding where and how we shall be sitting. For that reason after today’s session, you will wait for the decision of parliament,” added Among.

The Deputy Speaker also noted that the orientation seminar for MPs scheduled for 14th to 16th June has been postponed due to the pandemic.

According to a loose minute to all heads of departments accessed by Uganda Radio Network (URN), Pius Perry Biribonwoha, the Director Legal and Legislative Services says that they have received reports of increasing numbers of infected persons in the parliamentary community within the last three weeks.

“As a result, and in consultation with the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, we have been advised to immediately adopt and implement measures to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 within the precincts of parliament,” reads part of the loose minute written on 11th June on behalf of the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige.

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The loose minute requires all heads of department to draw up work schedules ensuring 20 percent presence in the office premises, while 80 percent of staff will work from home for the next 42 days.

“This is a measure to decongest the parliamentary precincts and to ensure safety of the parliamentary community. The work schedules should be submitted to the Office of the clerk by 14th June 2021,” further reads the loose minute.

The Parliament staff are also required to strictly observe all other SOPs and to immediately stay away and isolate is feeling unwell or have flue or cough or suspect being exposed to immediately undergo a COVID-19 test.

“A breach of the above measures by staff may lead to disciplinary measures. In addition to the foregoing, access to the precincts of parliament is strictly restricted to Members and Staff of Parliament.

By copy of this loose minute, the DPC Parliamentary Police is instructed to enforce the access restrictions,” reads the communication.

Parliament also notes that the earlier communication regarding to COVID-19 pandemic issued on 24th March 2020 when Uganda first registered a COVID-19 case still applies.

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