COVID Safe and cautious reopening of APH to the public on 4 July 2020

Joint statement from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon Tony Smith MP and the President of the Senate, Senator the Hon Scott Ryan

2 July 2020

On 16 March 2020 we advised of temporary and precautionary changes implemented as part of pandemic planning measures regarding the operations of Australian Parliament House (APH).

On 25 March 2020 APH was closed to the public.

Following advice from relevant health officials and the recent easing of restrictions announced by the ACT Government to allow public gatherings up to a maximum of 100 people, APH will reopen to the public on 4 July 2020. School visits will recommence on 20 July.

Our COVID Safe reopening of APH to the public is similar to the reopening plans of other national institutions and takes into consideration that APH is a significant working space for thousands of people.

Further advice on access to the public galleries of the Senate and House of Representatives, and to committee hearings, will be provided later this month, prior to the resumption of Parliament on 4 August.

COVID Safe measures

COVID Safe measures will be in place to support the staged reopening of APH and ensure the health and safety of visitors and those working within APH. These measures include:

  • COVID Safe information, including reminding people who are unwell not to visit APH, will be provided upon booking and arrival;
  • Collection of contact details upon booking should contact tracing be necessary;
  • Single-flow movement of people and physical distancing monitored by tour guides;
  • Additional cleaning of high-touch points in public areas; and,
  • Cashless purchases at all outlets.

Guided tours for the public

From 4 July 2020, APH will open 7 days per week for free guided tours. These must be booked in advance at Tours will run regularly for a 30-minute duration with up to 20 people. No more than 100 will be permitted in the public areas of APH at any one time. Access to the roof will not be available at this time.

Following a successful introduction of the free guided tours, paid guided and pre-booked tours will be introduced for groups of up to 20 people from 1 August 2020. These informative tours on our Art and Furniture collection and APH architecture will include access to the APH roof.

Return of school visits

We are pleased to welcome the return of primary and secondary school visits from 20 July 2020. The APH School Visit Program includes a one-hour comprehensive guided tour of APH by Visitor Services staff and a one-hour interactive education program conducted by the Parliamentary Education Office. In accordance with the advice from officials, these groups will be kept separate from other visitors to the building.

Access to the building

We are continuing to trial access to the building for certain passholders including former parliamentarians, volunteers and sponsored pass holders. There should be no gathering or loitering in the public or private areas of the building including in the café or dining spaces and access remains for specific meetings with parliamentarians that have been arranged prior to coming to the building.

As part of our cautious and staged approach to reopening the building, we are now planning for the return of events and functions. More details about this will be provided in following weeks.

Measures implemented across APH

The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) continues to maintain measures across APH as part of the ongoing pandemic response:

  • Physical distancing markers on floors at security screening points and food outlets;
  • Hand sanitiser stations positioned in circulation spaces;
  • Hygiene reminder signs in bathrooms;
  • Additional cleaning of touch points such as door handles and lift buttons;
  • Limiting access to tables in dining spaces according to ACT restrictions;
  • Signs in lifts and committee rooms specifying the maximum number of occupants; and,
  • All DPS food and retail outlets are cashless.

These measures will reduce the risk of transmission and are consistent with advice from the ACT Government, Commonwealth Department of Health and Safe Work Australia.

To reduce the risk of transmission, all building occupants must continue to follow the strict hygiene and social distancing requirements with which we have all become familiar.

As the situation continues to evolve, building occupants will be kept informed of any change regarding the operations of APH. DPS will continue to provide regular updates regarding appropriate health measures via Information Circulars.