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Safe sessions during the pandemic
Safety measures in the Dutch Parliament. © Tweede Kamer.

The House of Representatives of the Netherlands has developed new practices to prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading during the parliamentary meetings.

Parliaments and other public institutions around the world have been required to take up exceptional actions to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. A representative example is the House of Representatives of the Netherlands which has  introduced many new practices in the parliament.

The sessions in the plenary hall are reduced to once a week on average. During the recent weeks, only debates concerning the coronavirus have been held, and less urgent debates have been postponed until later. The sessions have been temporarily closed from the public, so the people have had to follow them only remotely via video broadcast.

Everybody in the premises, including the journalists, officials and the Members of the Parliament, are required to keep 1.5 meters distance from other people. The political groups have been asked to avoid being present in the plenary hall with more people than is strictly necessary. This has resulted in a practice where only one Member of Parliament of each party participates in the debate. When voting, a maximum of two Members of Parliament of each political group may take part in the vote. Also, only one Member of Parliament can consult the president at a time.

After every speech, the podium is cleaned during the session by the parliamentary officials, as is shown in the picture above. When the Members of Parliament wish to officially interrupt another member’s speech, they operate their microphones with a special foot pedal to avoid touching them with their hands. During breaks, all microphones are cleaned and their protective glasses changed.

The new safety measures have also had a big impact on parliamentary and other professional reporting in different institutions. These new working practices will be discussed in the second issue of Tiro in the Autumn.

How have the reporting practices changed in your workplace? Let us know in the comment section below.

  • Harpreet Singh

    I hope safety measures like disinfecting keyboards, tables and other surfaces are being taken for the Reporters also.

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