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

Issue date: Thursday, 17 March 2022

Following ongoing discussions with Commonwealth health officials and agencies, the settings in Parliament House for the Budget sittings, commencing 29 March 2022, will remain largely unchanged from current operations.  However, some limited measures will be introduced to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission while ensuring business continuity.

Arrangements currently in place that will continue, including:

  • Parliament House will remain open to the public.
  • Parliament Shop will remain open.
  • Chairs and tables will remain in all catering outlets (and in outdoor courtyards).
  • The Health and Recreation Centre will remain open in line with ACT Health Guidelines (no current restrictions).
  • Inside and outside events will be permissible and run according to ACT Health Guidelines.  They will require a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • Staff can work from the building where it suits employers and employees, in accordance with ACT Health advice.

House of Representatives Chamber and Galleries.

  • All members will be allowed to sit in the House of Representatives Chamber and the public Galleries will return to full capacity seating. Masks will be mandatory in the Chamber and Galleries due to increased attendance in the Galleries during the Budget sitting week.

Senate Chamber and Galleries

  • All Senators will be allowed in the Chamber in the regular seating plan. Masks in the Senate chamber will not be mandatory due to the smaller number of Senators and the greater physical distancing but are strongly recommended when physical distancing is not possible (such as Question Time and divisions). Spacing in the Galleries will mean masks will not be mandatory but will be encouraged.

Other COVID-safe measures will continue to operate in the building in line with ACT and Commonwealth health advice.

  • by entering the building you acknowledge you do not have symptoms and are not required to isolate under ACT Health rules for those exposed to COVID-19
  • physical distancing markers at entry points with Perspex screens at security points
  • people entering parliament House will be strongly encouraged to use masks where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing
  • for some Department of Parliamentary Services staff in critical roles, masks may still be required. For these staff, this requirement will be confirmed by your manager.
  • good hand hygiene will continue to be promoted with hand sanitiser available throughout the building, and
  • regular high touch cleaning in security screening areas.

Building occupants and visitors are reminded to stay home if you are unwell and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

The situation will be closely monitored, and any changes will be communicated to building occupants.