/ 17 March 2020

Covid-19 screenings at Parliament as MPs meet despite gatherings ban

Parliament had screening measures in place on Tuesday.

Parliament has instituted mandatory health screenings for people entering the parliamentary precinct in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

In unprecedented scenes, MPs, parliamentary staff and visitors were being checked by healthcare workers in various locations around the precinct. 

Legislature spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the screenings are a precaution and told the Mail & Guardian that they were mandatory for people entering the precinct. 

“[There is a] temperature check, completion of a register and completion of a mandatory questionnaire for those presenting with the following symptoms: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, general body malaise, and headache,” Mothapo said.

In a Facebook live video, ANC MP Faiez Jacobs broadcast himself and other MPs waiting in line to be screened. 

MPs could be seen having their temperatures checked outside the National Assembly Chamber. 

“II think it is the right thing to do. There is a lot of panic around but one should know one’s status… There’s a lot of comrades in front of me,” Jacobs said on the video. 

“We are on high alert. Tomorrow is our last day in Parliament and from there we will go into our constituencies and we are going to have to ensure that no panic is around,” he said.

Parliament finalises its work for the quarter this week, but there are still questions about whether regulations pertaining to the national state of disaster affect the work of the legislature.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that, among other measures, gatherings of more than 100 people are banned. 

This could affect the work of Parliament, especially in the event of a debate about whether the state of disaster proclamation should be extended. This would require a vote and adoption by the 400-member National Assembly.