MPs told not to bring guests as Parliament imposes fresh curbs to halt coronavirus spread
MPs have been told not to bring guests into Parliament and tours of the estate have been cancelled in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, it has been announced.
The Speakers of both Houses of Parliament said that from Monday, members would be “discouraged from bringing non-passholding guests on to the Parliamentary Estate” if they were visiting for “non-Parliamentary business-related purposes or for social purposes”.
All tours apart from school visits have also been cancelled, while mass lobbies - where large numbers of people meet in Parliament to press MPs on an issue - will not be allowed to go ahead.
Members of the public will still be allowed to watch debates from the public galleries of both chambers, while witnesses appearing before Parliament’s select committees can continue to come and give evidence.
The fresh guidance comes after a string of MPs entered self-isolation over concerns about the spread of the virus.
Parliamentary authorities have so far said there are “no plans” for the wider closure of Parliament over the outbreak.
But a joint statement from Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord Speaker Lord Fowler said: “We are resolved that Parliament should, insofar as possible, continue to fulfil its important constitutional duties of passing legislation, holding Government to account and, crucially, representing the views of the people of the United Kingdom and making their voice heard.
"In order to preserve the operation of Parliament, it is our duty to take proportionate and reasonable measures to reduce the risk to those who work on the Parliamentary Estate and those who have to visit. “
They added: "We are clear that now is the time to be pragmatic; everyone in the country is being asked to strike a balance and it is right that we do the same.
"It is in this spirit that we have decided to implement a number of restrictions relating to overseas travel and visitor access. These steps have been developed in conjunction with Public Health England and reflect the Government’s current approach.
"Members of the public wishing to enter the Parliamentary Estate solely to view Westminster Hall will not be admitted."
MPs and peers are also being “strongly” advised not to press ahead with any parliamentary travel, including official delegations to other countries.
The statement said: “Parliamentary authorities are keeping the situation under constant review, and are being updated according to the best medical advice.”