- On March 31, 2020
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March 24, 2020 | Ghanaian Times
Parliament is considering a temporary relocation of sittings to the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) as part of precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19.
The Speaker, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, who announced this yesterday, said the move was to provide ample space for the legislators to adhere to social distancing as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“As the Majority Leader [Osei Kyei -Mensah-Bonsu] suggested the other day, we are in the process of making all relevant arrangements if we can relocate temporarily to the conference centre”, he told legislators.
The inadequate space in the chamber, according to the Speaker, was a testament of the need for Parliament to get a spacious chamber wherein critical measures such as distancing could easily be done when necessary.
“May be this will make people realise that Parliament is really in need of a more spacious place to do the business that we are mandated to do. So in the future, all these will be considered appropriately,” he said.
Since majority of Members of Parliament (MPs) were absent in the chamber as of the time he was speaking, he directed members who were already wearing masks to leave a seat between them.
It would be recalled that a proposed construction for a new parliamentary complex to house a chamber, large enough to accommodate parliamentarians was shelved by the house over public outcry, last year.
Meanwhile eight more MPs who attended some meetings on behalf of parliament outside the country and arrived last week have been asked to self-quarantine for the mandatory 14 days.
This brings to 10 MPs and five parliamentary staff who are self-quarantining, including Binduri Legislator, Dr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem and Ayawaso East Lawmaker Mahama Nasser Toure who were asked to do so last week for same reason.
Prof. Oquaye, addressing journalists at a press conference after the day’s sitting declined to disclose the names of the eight MPs in keeping with professional standards in quarantine.
Announcing additional measures introduced by parliament, he said members of the public who had no urgent business in the house or its precinct should not visit but follow proceedings online.
“Those who have an absolute need to come to parliament must follow our strict regimen to keep everyone safe”, he said.
The Speaker also announced that only essential staff of parliament would henceforth report to work whereas national service personnel and MP’s research assistant would work from home.
Following the outbreak of COVID 19, he said some measure had been put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, including installation of sanitisers at vantage points and provision of protective face masks to MPs and staff.
He said checking of temperature of all MPs staff and media at entry points, provision of “Veronica buckets” and soaps for hand washing and fumigation of the parliamentary enclave as other measures.