The 2021/2022 Parliamentary Year will open tomorrow, Thursday, February 18, 2021 with the traditional Ceremonial Opening of Parliament being held at Gordon House. This year’s proceedings will take place in strict adherence to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism and House Leader, describes the restrictions as necessary given the country’s current COVID-19 situation. According to Minister Bartlett, “As Parliamentarians, it is our duty to demonstrate to our fellow Jamaicans that we should do everything possible to prevent the contraction and spread of the COVID-19 virus and if we can do this for as important an occasion as the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament, there is no excuse for any Jamaican to ignore the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ COVID-19 guidelines.”
Measures to be implemented include reducing the number of Parliamentarians attending the ceremony from 84 to 59 and increasing the number of sanitization stations at the entrance to Gordon Houses. The traditional ‘march to Gordon House’ will be COVID-19 compliant as well. Members of Parliament will approach Gordon House in single file, undertake the necessary sanitization procedures at the entrance of the building before entering the Chamber.
Physical access to the ceremony by members of the public will be restricted and persons are encouraged to follow the proceedings which will be broadcast live on local television and the Internet.
The Ceremonial Opening will be followed by a meeting of the House of Representatives in the afternoon at which the 2021/2022 Estimates of Expenditure will be tabled.