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Parliament’s sessions to be cut short due to Covid-19

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Krishna Mani Rao R.

22nd September 2020

A view of the Lok Sabha proceedings. (Sources: ThePrint)

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced lockdowns and put a lot of restrictions in daily life. Recently, it has been brought up in matters of the parliament as the ruling and opposition parties both unanimously agreed to cut short the sessions due to the growing number of Members of Parliament (MPs) getting infected with the coronavirus, including Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel. According to The Deccan Chronicle, around 50 other Members of Parliament have also been affected by the virus.

The Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu on 19 September, reiterated that "COVID-19 testing facility is available every day in Parliament and members are requested to undergo tests at their convenience. A meeting with the Union Home Secretary, health ministry, and ICMR was held. They told me that the best safeguard against COVID-19 is wearing face masks. Whenever you meet outside your house, wear a mask. Second is safe distancing, third is hygiene— washing and cleaning hands, and fourth is healthy food habits and exercise (whatever you like-yoga or exercise). I am concerned about the people. I am concerned about my members as well." These precautions came into place as India saw 1,247 COVID-19 related deaths and registered a massive spike of 48,464,27 new cases in 24 hours.  

The unanimous decision taken by the ruling and opposition parties is to hold sessions that will be four hours long during the present monsoon session. Furthermore, the seating arrangements will be done by keeping the rules of social distancing in consideration. The opposition party is in full agreement with the ruling party on the matter of cutting the parliamentary sessions short. According to sources, many members of the Opposition have also pointed out that coordinating an entire 18-day meeting could be a hazardous endeavour. 

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside the Parliament complex, journalists and parliamentary staff entering the premises have to mandatorily undergo the rapid antigen test that is designed to detect the presence of the virus from the respiratory tract of a person within minutes. The attendance of members of the houses will be captured using an app called Attendance Register and through poly carbon papers. According to The Hindu, the sessions may end by mid of next week and the final decision will be taken by the Cabinet Committee.  

Sources: PRSINDIA, The Hindu, Lok Sabha Official Site

Edited by Mridula Kumar

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