Federal MPs Weigh up Virus Limits Ahead of Parliament Sitting

Federal MPs Weigh up Virus Limits Ahead of Parliament Sitting
MP’s depart question time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House, on June 18, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Most federal MPs are expected to face no COVID-19 hurdles in coming to Canberra for the start of parliament in early February.

Members of parliament from all states and territories apart from some areas of NSW and Victoria, on current advice, face no restrictions in coming to the ACT.

But ACT Health advice is that while MPs and their staff from virus-affected areas of NSW can get an exemption to travel to Canberra, they must quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the ACT.

The areas included cover Greater Sydney (including Northern Beaches), Central Coast and Wollongong.

Victorians can travel to the ACT if they haven't been in a COVID-affected area in the last 14 days.

If they have been in a public location identified by the Victorian government as having had a confirmed COVID-19 case they will need to be tested.

ACT Health is expected to update its travel advice next week.

NSW Liberal MP Jason Falinski, whose seat of Mackellar covers Sydney's Northern Beaches, told AAP he would likely isolate at home before driving to Canberra for parliament.

"I'll comply with whatever ACT Health demands," he said.

"My community would expect me to represent them in parliament and that is what I will do."

He said many people in his electorate had a rough Christmas-New Year period.

"There were a lot of people who got cut off from family over Christmas, especially those in their 70s and 80s" he said.

"One lady (who couldn't see her family) said: 'I don't want to get hysterical but I don't know how many more Christmases I will have.'"

Some MPs are considering whether to self-isolate in Canberra from mid-January.

When parliament does resume on February 2 it is expected masks will be strongly recommended in areas of the building where people circulate and physical distancing is not possible.

Last year a number of MPs appeared in parliament via videolink from lockdown or quarantine, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison after a visit to Japan.

There were also limits imposed on public access and bans on school visits.

Paul Osborne in Canberra