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House of Commons Chamber proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic

Image of Members' Lobby with social distancing sign

Temporary arrangements are currently in place until 3 November 2020 to enable some MPs who have self-certified as unable to attend Westminster for medical or public health reasons related to the pandemic to participate remotely.

In response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, temporary arrangements to enable hybrid proceedings were agreed by the House of Commons on 21 and 22 April 2020. They originally had effect until 20 May 2020. During this time the House of Commons met on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

From 2 June 2020, following the Whitsun recess, the House of Commons returned to a socially distanced form of physical proceedings, in line with public health guidance. On 4 June 2020, the House of Commons agreed to allow some MPs to take part in some proceedings remotely. These temporary arrangements came into force on 8 June 2020 and now have effect until 3 November 2020.

Remote participation only extends to MPs who have self-certified as unable to attend Westminster for medical or public health reasons related to the pandemic. They will be able to participate virtually in oral questions, urgent questions and ministerial statements (known as scrutiny proceedings).

All MPs, whether participating physically or virtually, should follow guidance on the courtesies and rules of the House, such as abiding by a formal dress code.

Timeline of temporary arrangements

  • 21 April - MPs could participate in oral questions, urgent questions and ministerial statements under arrangements for temporary hybrid scrutiny proceedings (originally effective until 12 May 2020).
  • 22 April - MPs could, in addition, participate in a range of substantive business under temporary arrangements for hybrid substantive proceedings (originally effective until 12 May 2020).
  • 12 May - Temporary arrangements for hybrid proceedings extended until 20 May 2020.
  • 20 May - Temporary arrangements for hybrid proceedings lapsed.
  • 2 June - MPs return to Westminster following the Whitsun recess to take part in proceedings in the Chamber with social distancing measures in place, in line with public health guidance.
  • 4 June - Some MPs can take part in some proceedings remotely (oral questions, urgent questions and ministerial statements). To do so, MPs must have self-certified as unable to attend Westminster for medical or public health reasons related to the pandemic (originally effective from 8 June until 7 July 2020).
  • 10 June - Proxy voting scheme extended to include MPs who are unable to attend Westminster for medical or public health reasons related to the pandemic.
  • 1 July - Temporary arrangements agreed on 2 and 4 June 2020 extended until 2 September 2020.
  • 2 September - Temporary arrangements agreed on 2 and 4 June 2020 are further extended until 3 November 2020.

Commons Chamber proceedings

MPs sitting on Commons benches 2 metres apart.

Changes have been made to ensure the Chamber complies with public health guidelines relating to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures are in place.

Departmental questions and Prime Minister's Questions

Prime Minister Johnson at the despatch box during socially distanced PMQs.

Some changes to the way MPs participate in oral questions have been made to ensure the Chamber complies with public health guidelines and some MPs who are unable to attend Westminster can participate remotely.

Urgent questions

View of the Commons Chamber with screens for MPs participating virtually

Some changes to the way MPs participate in urgent questions have been made during the coronavirus pandemic and MPs who are unable to attend Westminster may participate remotely.

Ministerial statements

View of the Commons Chmber with social distancing from upper gallery.

Some changes to the way MPs participate in ministerial statementshave been made during the coronavirus pandemic and MPs who have self-certified as unable to attend Westminster can participate remotely.

Voting

Staff trail pass-reader voting in division lobbies

Under current arrangement, divisions in the House of Commons take place in the division lobbies and MPs register their votes using a pass-reader, maintaining social distancing throughout the process.

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