New health protocols were set out for members of parliament yesterday in light of the country’s Covid-19 situation.
The new protocols which were approved by the Health Services Sub Committee chaired by the chief medical officer were outlined to members by Speaker of the House Rochelle Forde who said the protocols are continually under review and are subject to change either becoming less or more stringent
Forde told the members inside the chamber that it is her hope that the country and by extension the parliamentary operations can return to a reasonable level of normalcy soon but in the meantime they must follow the rules.
It was noted by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves that all members on the government bench were vaccinated and have already submitted the requisite documentation. On the other side Leader of the Opposition Dr. Godwin Friday told the speaker that while he understands that public health is a number one priority at this time, a procedure which requires members to use a speaking booth as part of the new protocols will interfere with members proper functioning in the house and asked that discretion be given.
In her response the speaker of the house said while she has certain powers of discretion where the proceedings of the house are concerned, she does not have such discretion in the application of the health protocols and they must therefore be followed. The opposition leader however noted that they must be careful with the example set in the house
When it was time for the question and answer segment only the leader of the opposition who is known to be fully vaccinated stood and asked his questions from his seat. The other members on the opposition bench whose vaccination status is not known refused to use the speaking booth to ask their questions which prematurely ended the session.