Parliament is all geared up to host the the 18-day Monsoon Session from starting today, amidst the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. This session will witness many firsts, including sitting of the two Houses in shifts without any off day and members being required to display a negative Covid-19 report before entry. All MPs are also required to wear a facemask.
The first-of-its-kind Monsoon Session will see Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha sitting in two different shifts, while special seating arrangements have been made for MPs in adherence to social distancing guidelines.
Barring the first day, Rajya Sabha’s morning shift will convene from 9 am till 1 pm, and Lok Sabha’s evening shift will take place from 3 pm to 7 pm. In between the two shifts, the entire complex will be sanitised.
Entry into the premises for any member or staff will be allowed only after production of a Covid-19 negative report, with the test conducted not more than 72 hours before the start of the session. Arrangements have also been made to sanitise various parliamentary papers as well as footwear and vehicles of MPs, officials said. Frisking of people will also be replaced by touch-less security scanning, while thermal scanning will also be totally touch-free.
For making the entire Parliament complex a safe zone in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu have held a series of extensive discussions with officials of the Home Ministry, Health Ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
As per the Standard Operating Procedures finalised for holding the session from September 14 till October 1, the MPs and staff of secretariats of both houses, along with media personnel covering the proceedings, will be asked to undergo Covid-19 tests, not more than 72 hours before the start of the session.
DRDO will also provide multi-utility Covid-19 kits to all MPs. Each kit will contain 40 disposable masks, five N-95 masks, 20 bottles of sanitisers of 50 ml each, face shields, 40 pairs of gloves, a touch-free hook to open and close doors without touching them, herbal sanitation wipes and tea bags to enhance immunity.
The two houses together have more than 780 members at present. The Health Ministry has also suggested that the movement of Members of Parliament in chambers of both the houses can be made unidirectional to avoid face-to-face interactions.