House Speaker expects widespread quarantine of Parliament after staffer tests positive for COVID-19

House Speaker expects widespread quarantine of Parliament after staffer tests positive for COVID-19
Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie said he expects all parliamentarians and staff who attended the House last week to quarantine and test for COVID-19 after a staff member of the Parliament tested positive for the virus.

Moultrie said he received confirmation of the positive case this morning.

However, the speaker advised that a small quorum of members is still expected to meet tomorrow to consider a draft resolution on virtual Parliament.

The House last met on September 9.

The speaker said it is also possible senators could be required to quarantine “as a result of some other staff members who attended the session yesterday of the Senate, having been exposed on the September 9”.

He said testing among senators could be required out of an abundance of caution.

“That is what we are anticipating,” Moultrie told Eyewitness News.

“I received information that a member of the staff of the House of Assembly has tested positive for the coronavirus. I haven’t been able to speak with the staff member directly, but I spoke with the clerk of Parliament and I spoke with one of her doctors and they have confirmed that she has tested positive for the coronavirus.”

The House of Assembly was closed today for deep cleaning.

It is scheduled to meet tomorrow.

Today, Moultrie said he expects an “extraordinary meeting of the Parliament to examine this circumstance that we find ourselves in”.

“And so, I would expect that tomorrow we will meet with a bare minimum of the number of Parliament that is required to form a quorum and the government is likely to move on a number of resolutions

“I doubt whether or not we will go into the details of the bills that were scheduled to be debated tomorrow.

“As a result of the staff member testing member, that staff member also attended the last sitting of Parliament on the 9thof September.

“It is likely that all members who attended that session and all staff members who worked on the 9th of September were exposed.

“It is naturally expected based on the protocols that all staff members who were present or who were in contact with the person who has tested positive will have to quarantine themselves and will be tested.”

The speaker also said there were concerns when the House met last week, as there were three individuals in attendance who had previously tested positive for the virus.

He said additional protocols were discussed and he drafted a resolution that was submitted to the leader of government business for the government’s consideration concerning the same.

Moultrie said he has not received a response, but expects the government and Parliament will consider its options and arrive at the best alternative moving forward.