Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Members of Parliament (MPs) who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be allowed to attend parliament sessions next week.
Parliament is currently on a working recess to assess the impact of the Emyooga program in their constituencies. Chris Obore, the parliament director of communications and public affairs, says that parliament plans to resume sittings in the chamber that has a capacity of only 100 MPs and abandon using tents hired at Shs 8.5m daily.
According to Obore, when the sessions resume, only fully vaccinated MPs with certificates will be allowed access to avoid COVID-19 infections.
“We are going to resume using the chamber because we don’t want to keep spending money on tents. All members will have to be vaccinated to attend sittings to avoid infections,” he said.
Obore also says that parliament is considering discussing with different political party whips in parliament so that their members attend plenary sittings in shifts due to the limited space in the chamber and to also ensure social distancing.
The 11th has a total of 529 MPs and 26 ex-officio members and these cannot all be accommodated in the chamber at once.
Obore also says that the strangers gallery will also be used by the MPs and no members of the public will be allowed inside parliament to follow proceedings. Obore also said that parliament staff and journalists must be fully vaccinated.
MPs were among the first categories who were considered to receive COVID-19 vaccines. The parliamentary staff and journalists reporting from the parliament have since been receiving the vaccination.
As one of the ways to ensure social distancing and also curb the spread of the virus, parliament last year shifted the sessions from the chamber to the parliament parking lot under a tent. The tent can host more than 300 legislators.
The hired tents have since been used as a temporary chamber but Obore says that parliament cannot continue paying for the tents to cut costs.