Speaker considering adjourning House

Amid COVID-19 concerns, House Speaker Halson Moultrie is considering whether to adjourn Parliament “for a period of time” as well as protocols that would mandate that individuals with respiratory symptoms be ‘withdrawn’ from Parliament and Parliament Square.

“We have a number of health professionals who are basically advising that we avoid all public gatherings and so a decision would be made on whether or not the Parliament would adjourn or be suspended for a period of time,” Moultrie told The Nassau Guardian

“But that decision has not yet been made.”

Asked if he was considering holding Parliament with a closed gallery, Moultrie replied, “That would definitely be a consideration as well as digital and so on. We’ve begun to discuss those concepts to see which would be more suitable but a final decision has not yet been made on that.

“But, you know, we are examining how best we can proceed in these circumstances to minimize the risk of everyone involved and minimize exposures.”

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) last week, public institutions, including courts, around the world have made the decision to make its proceedings closed to the public.

According to the Bahamian Parliament’s proposed COVID-19 protocols, individuals who feel sick or have respiratory symptoms would have to “withdraw from the precincts of Parliament and Parliament Square”.

It recommends that upon entry to Parliament, individuals be required to use the bathroom to wash their hands “frequently”.

The draft encourages individuals to “not shake hands with anyone”.

“Strangers are not to approach or attempt to engage members [of Parliament] and/or senators,” it reads.

“Do not touch your face, embrace or speak into [an]other person’s face…Avoid the gallery and remain at least three feet away from other persons.”

The draft suggests that cell phones not be shared among individuals.

It recommends that cell phones be sanitized.

The document also recommends that the public “stay at home and utilize the Parliamentary broadcast and ZNS live streaming on ZNS’ Facebook page”.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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