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Commission urges MPs to wear face coverings in Commons Chamber

11 January 2021

MPs and staff inside the House of Commons Chamber are being strongly encouraged to wear face coverings - except when speaking - to further reduce the chance of Covid transmissions.

The recommendation was part of an additional package of measures discussed by the House of Commons Commission to keep parliamentary passholders as safe as possible.

These include:

  • Enforcing an even stricter adherence to the 2m social distancing rules, by reducing the total number of seats in the Chamber to 50 – including Mr Speaker and officials in the Chamber.
  • Establishing a stricter one-way system into and out of the Chamber.

The moves were approved after the Office for National Statistics estimated that as many as one in 30 Londoners has coronavirus.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also warned that the UK will go through ‘the most dangerous time’ of the pandemic as Covid causes record deaths and hospital admissions. PM Boris Johnson described the situation as a ‘perilous moment’.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker and Chair of the Commission, said the additional 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.

‘Staff and MPs are already strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when moving around the estate – these should also be worn in the Chamber.’

The House authorities have been asked to investigate whether Westminster Hall debates could move to a larger and better ventilated committee room, where hybrid proceedings could be initiated.

Further updates will be communicated in due course.