British MPs Told to Wear Face Masks Inside Parliamentary Chamber

British MPs Told to Wear Face Masks Inside Parliamentary Chamber
Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle (C) proceeds behind the Mace through the Central Lobby during the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament, in London, on Dec. 19, 2019. (Adrian Dennis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Alexander Zhang

British lawmakers and parliamentary staff have been “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings inside the House of Commons chamber to reduce the chance of CCP virus infections.

This is part of a new package of measures recommended by the House of Commons Commission to make the Houses of Parliament a safer place to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

The Commission also recommended reducing the total number of seats in the Chamber to 50, including the Speaker and officials, and establishing a stricter one-way system into and out of the Chamber.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Commons Speaker and chair of the Commission, said the measures were necessary “as the country moves into a critical stage during the crisis.”

“Ideally, everyone should be working remotely, but for MPs and staff who have to come on to the parliamentary estate, these measures will help keep everyone as safe as possible,” he said.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third national lockdown to curb the spread of a new CCP virus variant, which he said has a 50 to 70 percent faster rate of transmission.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics showed that around one in 30 people in London have been infected with the virus.

On Jan. 8, London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident,” saying that the city was “at crisis point” amid a surge of CCP virus cases.

Under the lockdown rules, people may only leave home for limited reasons, such as to shop for essentials, to work if one absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance, or to escape domestic abuse.

In line with social distancing rules, the House of Commons Commission has encouraged staff members to work remotely where possible. But it said that some MPs and key staff are still required to work on the parliamentary estate "to enable the House to continue to fulfil its important constitutional role."

Since the pandemic began last spring, four MPs are known to have received hospital treatment for the CCP virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken to St Thomas’s Hospital in central London on April 5 and spent three days in intensive care.
Labour MP Tony Lloyd spent 25 days in Manchester Royal Infirmary in April, including 10 days in an induced coma on a ventilator.
Another Labour MP, Yasmin Qureshi, spent six days in hospital in October, where she was treated for pneumonia after testing positive for the CCP virus.
Jo Stevens, Labour MP for Cardiff Central, said on Jan. 6 that she had left hospital after receiving treatment for the virus.
Simon Veazey contributed to this report.