New Delhi: Addressing members who took oath in the House, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said that the ensuing Monsoon Session of the House will also be held as per the COVID-19 protocol conforming with the social distancing and safety norms.
The COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country including more than 18,000 cases on Friday itself, therefore, the COVID restrictions which have been in place for the last few sessions will continue to be in place in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament. Sources said that this decision has been arrived at after considerable discussion and monitoring by both custodians of the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha.
It has also been brought to notice that more than 80 pc of the eligible members of Parliament, as well as staff of the Secretariat, have been able to take vaccinations including the booster dose.
Members of Parliament will be expected to be masked up at all times and abide by the norms of social distancing.
The sitting of members will be available in both the Lok Sabha as well as a Rajya Sabha chambers and also in the visitor’s gallery.
This essentially means that visitor entry will continue to be blocked during the upcoming session.
Restrictions will also continue on the number of media personnel who will attend the proceedings of the house from the galleries.
The Rajya Sabha chamber can accommodate 60 members, while the Lok Sabha chamber can seat 132. The remaining members will be accommodated in the visitors’ gallery of both the Houses.
There is likely to be a restriction for MP staff and a limit on staff for ministers to enter the Parliament building as well.
Repeated requests are likely to be made to get the booster dose for those eligible and who have still not taken the vaccine. Desks will be set up to hold COVID-19 tests from time to time to be undertaken if anyone calls in unwell or shows COVID-19 symptoms
Sources said that members can continue to maintain attendance through digital or physical means and an appeal will also be made to the members to restrict the use of paper or circulation of paper Bills.
Sources also say that the Central Hall will be continued to be out of bounds for former members or family members of MPs.
It was during the last monsoon session in 2021 that the COVID-19 restrictions were first imposed in Parliament.
In fact, in December 2021 the winter session of Parliament was cancelled and was clubbed in with the budget session of 2022.
The monsoon session of Parliament will begin on July 18. The session is slated to conclude on August 12.
The session will coincide with the presidential and vice-presidential elections. Voting for the presidential election is slated for July 18 while that for the vice-presidential election will take place on August 6, if necessary.
NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu and Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha are in the fray in the presidential election.