National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has developed tough guidelines for MPs when sittings resume on April 14 after a month-long recess.
The Speaker has called a special sitting of the House on Wednesday to discuss the stages of the 2020 Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill containing proposals on revenue collection in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Apart from requiring lawmakers to sanitise and observe social distancing, Mr Muturi said only 70 of the 349 MPs would be allowed in the chamber.
According to the guidelines, the clerk will notify the MPs by SMS or any other means whenever the House is to sit.
Priority of seat allocation will be accorded to MPs who register. “The notification will require MPs to register their desire to attend the particular sitting,” Mr Muturi says in the 27-point guidelines published on Thursday.
The 70 seats in the chamber have been marked. Every seat has been given a number.
However, the Speaker has reserved six seats for the majority leader, minority leader, deputy Speaker, majority and minority whips and a member scheduled to move any business on the order paper.
Once in the chamber, MPs will not change seats or move close to one another, the Speaker or the clerks for whatever reason.
WORK FROM HOME
There will be no consultation “unless extremely necessary”. “Upon vacation of a seat by a member, prompt disinfection of the seat, table, electronic system, microphones and the chamber tablet will be undertaken by the relevant officers before the seat is occupied,” the guidelines say.
The public galleries and diplomatic box will only be occupied by technical staff facilitating the sitting.
Mr Muturi has designated the two members’ lounges and the dining hall as waiting areas that will accommodate other MPs interested in participating in the proceedings.
He informed the lawmakers that a register at any of the three designated holding areas may be taken.
Mr Muturi’s guidelines encourage lawmakers and parliamentary employees aged 58 and above, those with medical conditions as well as those who are expectant or lactating to work from home as they are more vulnerable.