Federal parliament returns to restrictions

Parliament House will again be closed to the public in a bid to protect Canberra residents from coronavirus.

The number of politicians attending federal parliament in person throughout August and early September will also be substantially reduced.

Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan announced the “strictest possible” coronavirus restrictions on Monday to minimise non-essential activity.

School tours and all event bookings will be cancelled or postponed.

Physical distancing measures will return to both chambers and all meeting rooms, with many members and senators to work from home.

Parliamentarians have been told to bring only essential staff and not sign in any guests.

Staff numbers are expected to be limited to ministerial and shadow ministerial staff along with employees of party whips.

Former parliamentarians, elected members of other legislatures, volunteers and sponsored pass holders will be denied entry to the building.

Two in every five staff at parliamentary departments will have to work remotely, while all other public servants have been instructed to stay away.

Parliamentary committees have been advised to conduct hearings online.

Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery have been told to minimise staff numbers and not attend any events held beyond the forecourt.

Food and beverage outlets will be takeaway-only and the fitness centre and sports fields will close.

“COVID-safe marshals will encourage physical distancing and the wearing of face masks in mixed areas of the building and gathering in high traffic areas will be discouraged,” the presiding officers said in a joint statement.


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