Kenya: National Assembly Scales Down August Calendar Over Virus Concerns

Nairobi — The National Assembly has suspended its Tuesday and Thursday sittings effective August 5, 2020 owing to the rise of coronavirus cases in the country.

In the latest alteration of the calendar of the House, lawmakers will only have sessions on Wednesdays; one in the morning and the other in the evening.

The dicision was arrived at following a meeting of the House Business Committee chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi on Saturday.

"Taking cognizance of the recent rise in the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the Country, this House resolves to further alter its Calendar for the Fourth Session," a July 28 order paper on the intended changes reads in part.

The legislators who are currently on a short recess are expected to resume on Tuesday, July 28.

"The House will hold morning and afternoon Sittings on Thursday, July 30, 2020, commencing at 10.00 a.m. and at 2.30 pm, respectively".

Traditionally, the National Assembly holds afternoon sittings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Wednesdays diarized for two sittings; one in the morning and another session in afternoon.

Speaker Muturi is expected to communicate the new changes on the floor of the House on Tuesday.

The move by the House comes barely days after Speaker Muturi suspended committee meetings until July 28, with virtual meetings given prominence subject to lifting of the directive by Speaker Muturi.

Muturi clarified that committees which urgently seek to have physical sittings should expressly get clearance from his office prior to making any arrangements.

His order followed a request by the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua who asked Muturi to provide an alternative operational guideline to ensure that members of the Executive discharge their duties without compromising their individual or public health.

The House has been on partial lockdown notably after two lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. The two unknown MPs have however since recovered.

There have been concerns that a majority of the staff in Parliament are suspected to have contracted the virus in what has majorly been pegged on the new changes.

Parliament is among government institutions whose operations have since been paralyzed owing to the recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Kenya's COVID-19 caseload rose to 16,268 on Friday after 667 new infections were recorded.

The number of fatalities associated to the virus stands at 274.

A total of 7, 746 people have since recovered from the virus.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is on Monday set to hold the fifth extraordinary summit with Governors where new COVID-19 restriction measures are set to be discussed ahead of his address to the nation.

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