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COVID-19: Parliament considers use of public gallery by MPs during sittings

The leadership of Parliament may allow some Members of Parliament to occupy the public gallery in order to adequately observe the social distancing protocol when the House reconvenes on Tuesday [May 19, 2020].

The public gallery is usually occupied by members of the public who want to witness parliamentary proceedings but following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana, Parliament announced that no member of the public will be allowed in the public gallery as part of safety measures.

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said in a Citi News interview that, all available options are being considered, including the use of the public gallery by MPs to ensure social distancing.

“We’ve also stopped the public from visiting to observe proceedings. That space is free and as part of discussions, we are thinking that perhaps if members come in their numbers, we may ask some of them to relocate upstairs, to populate what otherwise should serve as the public gallery,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh in an interview last week also proposed that the should House should sit in batches or convene intermittently to protect legislators from the virus.

“As Members of Parliament, we need a lot of measures to be put in place so that Ghanaians will not see us as different human beings because we are also potential carriers of the virus. If you say we should not gather more than 25 and 275 of us gather in the same chamber without ensuring social distancing, the government’s posture will not be seen as serious unless there are pragmatic measures put in place to ensure social distancing.”

“They should call us to come and deal with specific issues and then go back. By now every Member of Parliament should have been tested. We travel more than anybody in this country. It should not be as though we are superhuman beings. I think if indeed we are going to be called to do a specific business, I do not have a problem. But sitting as though there is nothing at stake, I vehemently oppose that idea,” he said.

Source: Citinewsroom

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