Speaker Oquaye directs MPs to stop inviting visitors to Parliament

The Speaker of Parliament, Aaron Mike Oquaye, wants the number of people in State House kept as low as possible to guard against the spread of COVID-19

The Speaker of Parliament has reminded legislators that the State House, where Parliament sits, is not a place for accommodating visitors.

Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye said lawmakers must not bring their research assistants and other staff to the floor of Parliament.

The directive is one of a raft of safety measures to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread further in Parliament.

He warned that accommodating strangers on the floor would also increase the chances of spreading the virus among MPs.

Parliament can’t afford a shutdown

Professor Oquaye made these comments while addressing the House on 10 July 2020. He argued that there was the need to ensure all MPs are safe and able to attend to national issues.

For this reason, he said, Parliament cannot afford to close down despite the outbreak of COVID-19. He therefore cautioned all legislators to keep the human traffic in Parliament as light as possible.

“Please, let us keep human traffic lean and do all we can do as much as possible. We know one thing: that Parliament is not like many other places [where] you can simply and easily say we have suspended our activities and we will close down,” the Speaker said.

“If Parliament does not sit, the country will shut down and there will be no money. It is as simple as that. S as for Parliament, please know we are in a very peculiar situation.

“In fact, government departments can operate in case of emergencies separately and individually, but Parliament is Parliament,” he said.

Disciplinary action

The Speaker said Parliament has work to do and, therefore, there will be rigid rules to ensure that there is a safe environment in which that can happen.

He pleaded with MPs to co-operate, adding that the marshals of the House will be ready to walk out anyone who has no business appearing in Parliament.

“Let us co-operate and make sure that anyone who does not have priority business in Parliament is sent away.

“Report to the Marshals’ Office and security will deal with that person. We are going to be very rigid because we have a duty to perform,” he said.

Professor Oquaye said all auxiliary staff must stay away from the premises of Parliament and work electronically instead.

He added that no MP “should come and plead for anyone” if any of their auxiliary staff is disciplined for breaking the directive.

E A Alanore

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