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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 673: debated on Monday 16 March 2020

I would like to make a short statement about the arrangements within Parliament in the light of the current circumstances due to coronavirus. All of us recognise the importance of Parliament continuing at such a difficult time because of the need to ensure proper scrutiny and address our constituents’ concerns. However, to reduce the risk to those who work on the parliamentary estate and those who visit, we have taken some proportionate and reasonable measures to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

The following are some of the measures that are in place: no banqueting or commercial tour bookings will be accepted, and existing bookings have been cancelled and refunds will be issued; no mass lobbies will be allowed; all-party parliamentary groups are asked not to invite non-passholding guests on to the estate; and all passholders should refrain from bringing non-passholders on to the estate unless they are here for parliamentary business. I will be reviewing all other access arrangements constantly.

In addition, I can announce that, to alleviate the pressure on our security staff, the Portcullis House public entrance will be closed to non-passholders with effect from this Wednesday. This is a fast-moving situation, and I expect to make further announcements later today or tomorrow morning. I will not be taking points of order on this statement.