Written by Zulfick Farzan
20 Oct, 2020 | 3:31 pm
Colombo (News 1st); Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi on Tuesday (20) said the Parliament is not designated in the Health Regulations Gazette as a ‘Public Place’ where face masks should be worn.
She made this remark in response to Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa’s comments in Parliament requesting seating in the house of legislature to be arranged in a manner where social distancing is maintained as mentioned in the Covid-19 (Preventive Measures) Regulations Extraordinary Gazette.
He called for Parliamentary sessions to continue after such measures have been taken.
The Opposition Leader highlighted the fact the Health Minister herself admitted one law exists in Parliament and a separate law exists outside of Parliament.
However, the Health Minister said as per the interpretation of the Covid-19 (Preventive Measures) Regulations Extraordinary Gazette, Parliament does not fall under the category of a ‘Public Place’.
When the Opposition Leader said if the regulations do not apply in Parliament and MPs can choose not to wear the mask, the Health Minister responded stating his actions would show what a responsible public representative he is.
However, Sajith Premadasa was quick to counter her claim stating that on one hand, the Health Minister states the Covid-19 (Preventive Measures) Regulations Extraordinary Gazette does not apply to Parliament and on the other hand she calls for the MPs to act responsibly.
The Opposition Leader reprimanded the Health Minister for her actions and requested the Speaker to establish the Constitution Council to ensure the sessions of Parliament take place in accordance with the provisions of the Covid-19 (Preventive Measures) Regulations Extraordinary Gazette.
Opposition MP Rauff Hakeem pointed out to the Speaker of his responsibility towards the MPs in the event COVID-19 reaches Parliament.
He requested the Speaker to call for a Party Leaders meeting to decide on proceeding with Parliament Sessions as per the provisions of the Covid-19 (Preventive Measures) Regulations Extraordinary Gazette.
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