Leader of the Opposition Dr Godwin Friday wants the country’s Chief Medical Officer to give her input on the situation at the House of Assembly where two government members tested positive for COVID-19.
Friday was supposed to make his presentation this morning in response to the budget address of the finance minister.
However, the budget debate was suspended today after Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and Urban Development minister Julian Francis tested positive for COVID-19 on a rapid test this morning. The finance minister was in the Parliament up to yesterday evening where he delivered his budget address.
Friday in a media conference said in light of what transpired today the notion of returning to Parliament to conduct business without the input of the CMO is simply not on.
Recalling how the day began, the President of the New Democratic Party (NDP) said he received a call earlier in the morning before 9 o’clock from the Speaker who informed him that the CMO had directed all members and personnel in the House to be rapid tested before Parliament commenced at 9 am. The start of Parliament was delayed to conduct the tests which were done at the House of Assembly.
Friday said he arrived just after 9 am and was informed by a colleague who had already been tested that the finance minister tested positive and had left the building. Shortly after he then learned about Minister Julian Francis as well.
“No one informed me officially of the developments but we learned of them,” said the Opposition leader.
Friday said he spoke with the Speaker of the House and told her the situation had become untenable and that he along with his members felt it was not safe in the Chamber.
After gathering in the courtyard of the Parliament, the Opposition members agreed in the circumstances that they would not return due to safety concerns.
The opposition is now waiting for the CMO to consider the matter.
“COVID-19 is serious and we must protect ourselves. I want my colleagues to be safe and feel safe when we show up for work at the Parliament building,” said Friday.
Moving onto another development, the Opposition Leader said he did not agree yesterday with the Prime Minister’s suggestion to have members vote by telephone, if absent from the House when voting takes place on the Appropriation Bill.
The Opposition Leader said he also will not entertain any talk about letting members who have tested positive, being allowed to vote in person at the Parliament.
“To me that is irresponsible talk and sends a bad message,” said Friday.
The Opposition leader made it clear that neither he nor his members will be attending Parliament if any member who has tested positive is allowed to be in the Chamber.
Friday said his call for plexiglass shields to be installed in the House of Assembly around each sitting position for protection while making presentations, as opposed to walking back and forth to a single plexiglass booth, is another matter which should have been considered.
Source :Loop Caribbean