Covid Commons: MPs Ordered To Cancel Events After Outbreak

Events, tours and banquets in the Houses of Parliament have been shut down for two weeks because of a Covid outbreak on the estate. 

MPs hoping to host talks and gatherings have been told they must cancel due to a “major incident”. 

An email sent to staff, seen by HuffPost UK, said: “All events on the estate that do not relate to parliamentary business will be cancelled for the next two weeks, including banqueting events (member-sponsored and third party), tours and other meetings.”

The email said “recent increases” in Covid-19 across the country were being “reflected in parliament” and the UK Health Security Agency had determined the risk of transmission on the estate was “now greater”.

It was also reiterated to staff they “should” wear face coverings on the estate unless they have a “legitimate exemption”.

They were told masks should “only” be removed when seated at their desk, during meetings if required to speak, or when eating or drinking. 

Workers have also been told to “maintain distancing” as much as possible on the estate.

Meanwhile, all face-to-face meetings between colleagues on the estate “should be avoided” unless there is a “business need”.

“Colleagues must space out and avoid sitting directly opposite each other in working areas. Avoid close contact at all times,” the memo added.

MPs’ staffers have been seen getting a telling off from authorities on the estate for not wearing masks.

Some, who are sceptical of the measures, raised concerns that they will set a precedent for the rest of the country.

Others are annoyed that they have to wear masks at work while MPs – who are not employed by the Commons authorities – cannot be forced to wear them.

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg recently claimed that Conservative MPs do not need to wear masks because they all know each other and share a “convivial and fraternal spirit”. 

A parliamentary spokesperson said it was their “priority” to ensure those on the estate are “safe” while business is facilitated.

They cited rising cases, adding: “As a consequence, some further action is being taken to ensure that case numbers do not continue to rise. The measures will be reviewed in two weeks’ time.”

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