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Social distancing protocols implemented in House of Assembly

If social distancing efforts in the House of Assembly do not go smoothly, House Speaker Halson Moultrie said yesterday that the proceedings may have to be moved to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.

Moultrie said the government has already spoken with Baha Mar about the use of rooms there to accommodate Parliament.

Yesterday, the House of Assembly was able to accommodate a maximum of 27 of the 39 MPs, even with the gallery having been removed.

“We have set up the chambers, so that on the front bench, each row, there are four seats,” Moultrie said.

“On the back bench, each row, there are four seats.

“We have four rows, so that makes 16 seats. We have completely removed the gallery to permit additional members to sit, and we have nine seats in this area that used to be the gallery. So, the Parliament chamber has been extended.”

Moultrie said the remaining 12 MPs watched the proceedings from the majority and minority rooms.

“There was an agreement among the bodies,” he said.

“I believe the agreement is that the opposition will have two members sitting in the chambers at all times and they will rotate the other two members. The two independents, one will sit at all time and the other will rotate in.”

Moultrie said if the efforts don’t go smoothly, House proceedings may have to be moved to another location.

“We have had discussions with Baha Mar, in particular, and Baha Mar has indicated that they would be prepared to give us three rooms to set up the Parliament in such a way that the entire body can sit. The 39 members would be able to sit.”

So far, there are 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. Moultrie said that for the time being, members of the public will not be allowed in the House.

“We can’t imagine a circumstance where one or two members tested positive because that would really mean that the entire Parliament would have to go into quarantine,” he said.

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