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
4 September 2020
On 17 August 2020 we advised of arrangements made regarding operations and activities at Australian Parliament House (APH) for the parliamentary sitting period.
These arrangements for a COVID Safe sitting of the Parliament were based on consultations between the Presiding Officers, Parliamentary Departments and relevant Commonwealth officers and agencies including the Acting Chief Medical Officers. At the time, we advised the measures would apply for a fortnight commencing 24 August 2020.
Access to Parliament House
From 7 September 2020, APH will again be open to the public in accordance with the ACT Government’s easing of restrictions. APH will be open 7 days per week and free and paid guided tours will resume. Tour arrangements include:
- pre-booked attendance (www.aph.gov.au/tours)
- twelve tours per day for up to 20 people, and
- paid tours showcasing our Art and Furniture collection and APH architecture (which includes access to the APH roof).
Access to the public galleries of the Senate and House of Representatives, and to committee hearings, will be reinstated in a controlled and COVID Safe manner.
The following categories of passholders will again be welcome to access the private areas of the building:
- former parliamentarians
- elected members of other legislatures
- volunteers, and
- sponsored pass holders.
There should be no gathering or waiting around 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.
The resumption of events in functions spaces remains under consideration.
Return of school visits
We are pleased to welcome the return of primary and secondary school visits. 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. While meetings between a local member of Parliament and school groups are a highlight for all of us, it is strongly encouraged that these take place virtually. In accordance with advice from health officials, these groups will be kept separate from other visitors to the building.
COVID Safe measures
COVID Safe measures will be in place to support the reopening of APH and to ensure the health and safety of visitors and those working within APH. These measures include:
- COVID Safe information will be provided upon tour booking and arrival at APH, including reminding people who are unwell not to visit APH
- 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.
The Department of Parliamentary Services continues to maintain measures across APH as part of the ongoing pandemic response including:
- 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.
Building occupants will again have access to in-venue dining in accordance with the ACT Government restrictions. Limited seating will be provided and it is essential physical distancing is maintained when frequenting these outlets.
Health and Recreation Centre (HRC)
The HRC will re-open from Monday 7 September and bookings are essential. The same COVID Safe measures will apply. In accordance with the easing of restrictions by the ACT Government that came into place on 10 August 2020, the spa and sauna will re-open.
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, it is important all building occupants continue to follow the strict hygiene and physical distancing requirements with which we have all become familiar.
Building arrangements will be reconsidered ahead of the next Parliamentary sitting period in October.