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Sun, 5 April 2020

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Jeremy Corbyn insists he will still go to Parliament despite being in at-risk group for coronavirus

Jeremy Corbyn insists he will still go to Parliament despite being in at-risk group for coronavirus

Jeremy Corbyn said he was still working despite being in an at-risk group for coronavirus infection (Sky)

2 min read

Jeremy Corbyn said it was “very important” he keep attending Parliament despite being in an at-risk group advised to practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

When quizzed by Sky’s Sophy Ridge on whether he’d still attend the Commons, the 70-year-old Labour leader said: “Yes, of course, because I’ve got to speak there and I’ve got to ask questions there.”

This is despite Public Health England advice that anyone aged 70 or older should reduce social interactions, regardless of any medical conditions.

But Mr Corbyn assured viewers he was taking precautions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said: “Well I’m obviously working, and I’m a local MP as well as leader of the party. 

“But I’m making sure I’m not getting too close to people, which is why I didn’t even shake your hand this morning - it’s the normal thing to do. 

“I’m also making sure that everything is kept absolutely clean.”

The number of people working from his office had been reduced “as low as we can”, he added, saying his team had become “very good at Zoom calls and conference calling” while working from home.

His comments come as the Government is set to write to 1.5m people in certain at-risk groups advising them to stay home for 12 weeks.

And cafes, pubs, cinemas and restaurants were told to close their doors on Friday night as the number of UK cases hit nearly 5,000, including 233 deaths.

The opposition leader also explained how Parliament would operate during the pandemic.

He continued: “We have discussed this with the Speaker and the authorities and the compromise we reached last week was, firstly, that I think that Parliament should remain in session. 

“It’s very important that we have a chance to put questions to the government and of course this [emergency coronavirus legislation] is going to come up on Monday. 

“But what we agreed was, informally, between the parties, that we’d greatly reduce the number of MPs that came into the chamber. They’d have to sit one to two metres apart."

Mr Corbyn also said Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday was “a very strange experience” and “something I’ve never known before”, after the usually-packed chamber was reduced to around 100 MPs. 

It followed members of both the Commons and Lordsadvised to stay away from proceedings unless they intend to speak.

Meanwhile the 82-year-old Lord Speaker, Baron Fowler, has announced he will work from home from now on in line with medical advice.

Non-pass holder access to the Parliamentary estate has also been limited, public galleries have been closed and all tours have been cancelled.

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