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HOA can now have virtual sessions

The rules that govern the House of Assembly have been amended to now allow virtual sittings of parliament.

This amendment was published in governments official newsletter, the gazette, on Wednesday, May 19.

The policy change titled House of Assembly (Amendment) Standing Orders 2020 read: “Standing Orders 91 is amended by inserting after paragraph (2) the following new paragraph: ‘(2A) Where it is impracticable by reason of any emergency for the House of Assembly to meet physically, the House may do so by electronic means’.”

The decision was made by the House on March 27 when Premier Andrew Fahie moved a motion for the House to have the ability to meet remotely during exceptional circumstances.

The move towards virtual sessions comes amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which requires strict social distancing practices and safety protocols to prevent any spread of the highly-contagious and sometimes-deadly disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, the disease can spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person, and other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these surfaces then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.

UK explores option

As COVID-19 remains a global threat, other countries are also exploring the idea of virtual parliaments. Over in the United Kingdom, more than 100 Members of Parliament recently signed an open letter calling for the creation of a digital parliament, the BBC has reported.

British Crown Dependency, the Isle of Man has also announced plans have remote sittings.

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