Joint statement by the Presiding Officers on building operations at Australian Parliament House

Issue date: Friday, 12 November 2021

Following changes to ACT restrictions, building occupants of Parliament House will no longer be required to wear masks in the workplace from today (12 November) up until the beginning of the last parliamentary sitting period for 2021 (from Sunday 21 November).

Face masks will again be mandatory in Parliament House for the final sitting fortnight from Sunday 21 November to Friday 3 December 2021.  Masks will still be necessary for Security, Catering, Events and Visitor Services personnel.

While high vaccination rates have allowed easing of restrictions by state and territory governments, following consultation with Commonwealth and ACT health officials, it remains necessary to maintain stricter precautionary measures to ensure the safety of all building occupants for the final sitting period—22 November to 3 December 2021.

Parliament House is a unique workplace with parliamentarians and staff travelling to Canberra from all over Australia to attend sittings and then back home again. The risk of infection and transmission remains high with different health settings, eased quarantine requirements and variable rates of vaccinations among the states and territories.

Precautionary measures, stricter than ACT requirements, will ensure the Commonwealth Parliament can continue its essential work uninterrupted while reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Accordingly, Parliament House will remain closed to the public until Friday 3 December and will reopen to the public from Saturday 4 December 2021.

The measures to take effect from Monday 22 November to Friday 3 December (final sitting fortnight) include:

  • Only staff who are considered genuinely and absolutely essential by their employer, and are unable to work remotely, are to come into the building. Where work can be undertaken from home it should be done so. This includes all staff in the offices of members, senators, office holders, ministers, parliamentary departments and the media
  • Nurses will undertake temperature testing at all entrances
  • Face masks will again be mandatory (from Sunday 21 November)
  • No event or courtyard bookings will be taken.

APH operations

During the next sitting period, non-essential services in the building will be closed. A restricted catering service will continue for those who need to work in the building. These changes include:

  • Health and Recreation Centre, courts and playing fields will close
  • The Parliament Shop will close
  • Chairs and tables will be removed from catering outlets
  • Queen’s Terrace Café and Members and Guests Dining Room will be closed
  • Take home meals are still available – through In-Room Dining, and Staff Dining Room
  • Meals delivered through In-Room Dining will be via contactless delivery
  • All DPS operated food outlets will remain cashless
  • Reusable (keep) cups will not be accepted during this period.

The health settings will continue to be monitored and any change will be communicated promptly.

Visitors to the building

Visitors may only be signed in for essential meetings.  A pass holder who signs visitors into the building is responsible for those guests while they are in Parliament House. After the meeting, those visitors must be escorted back to a security entrance by the person who signed them in. If the visitor has a subsequent meeting with a different office, they must be signed in again at the security entrance by a representative of that other office.

Important safeguards

All building occupants are reminded to:

  • Continue to follow strict COVID-safe hygiene and physical distancing requirements  
  • Use the masks and sanitiser that are available throughout the building for your use
  • Do not attend the building if you are feeling unwell
  • Use the Check-in CBR app to register attendance where posted around the building
  • All those entering the building must check the ACT Government COVID-19 website and exposure sites updates prior to attending APH, and regularly as it is constantly updated
  • Anybody with any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must not enter the building. They must remain at home and follow ACT Health advice
  • Entry to the building will be taken as confirmation that you fully comply with the above and have not been at an exposure site, you do not have symptoms and have complied with ACT Health orders.

Parliamentarians who return to the ACT must comply with the ACT Public Health Directions.

ACT exposure sites

The ACT Government updates a list of exposure sites on its website each day. Please check this frequently.

If you have been to any of these locations at the dates and times specified, please follow the ACT Health advice. Testing locations in the ACT can be found here.

Further and more specific advice will be provided as it becomes available.