Parliament’s pandemic protocols for budget sitting

By Tom Ravlic

March 18, 2022

It's a ghost town at Parliament House.
MPs and members of the public who snaffle a seat at Budget time will need to wear masks. (design-net.biz)

The coming federal budget sitting of the national parliament will see the chamber and the public galleries in the house of representatives back to full capacity, but there is a catch.

Members of the parliament and those members of the public who snaffle a seat will need to wear masks.

An announcement from the offices of both the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate released notes that face masks will be mandatory because of the increased numbers expected to visit the parliament during budget week.

Arrangements for the senate will, however, be slightly different, the presiding officers state, because there is a smaller number of senators and greater physical distancing.

Senators will not be required to wear masks in their chamber but “are strongly recommended when physical distancing is not possible (such as Question Time and divisions)”.

The public gallery in the senate will not have a mandatory mask rule but masks will still be encouraged for those wanting to watch debates in the senate.

Other parts of parliament house that will remain open include the shop and catering outlets. Chairs and tables will remain in the catering outlets and the courtyards around parliament house.

Parliamentarians and other stakeholders will be able to run events, but these will need to be run in accordance with ACT health guidelines and have a COVID-19 safety plan.

Various COVID-safe measures will continue to be in force within parliament house in accordance with ACT and commonwealth health advice.

These include but are not limited to physical distancing markets being at entry points along with Perspex screens at security points, encouragement of mask wearing where social distancing is impossible, and high touch cleaning of screening areas.

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