Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka has announced a raft of measures which will allow only 28 selected senators to be in the House’s debating chamber during its sitting today (Tuesday) afternoon.
This is in line with measures intended to curb the spread of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Senate reconvenes Tuesday afternoon to debate the Division of Revenue Bill, 2020.
There is also a motion for the establishment of an ad hoc committee that will work jointly with members of the National Assembly to consider executive measures announced last week which seek to address the effects of the disease which has already seen 50 Kenyans infected.
Some of the executive interventions require policy and administrative action while others require legislative interventions.
Senators and staff aged 58 and above are encouraged to work from home in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive.
In a communication to be read by Speaker Lusaka on the floor of the House today (Tuesday), the selected Senators will be required to wash their hands before entering the chamber.
This is in a bid to promote the World Health Organisation (WHO’s) guidelines to check the spread of the disease.
They will also be required to observe social distancing while entering, during the sitting and while leaving the chamber as recommended by WHO.
According to Speaker Lusaka, the plenary sittings are being held after consultations with and on the advice of senior officials from the Ministry of Health (MoH).
During a meeting with Mr Lusaka and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi last week, the MoH officers inspected the precincts of Parliament before detailing a list of conditions to be met.
“I urge all Senators and staff of the Senate to observe these guidelines to ensure smooth flow of legislative business while Covid-19 persists. I shall, where necessary, provide further guidelines,” Lusaka says.
The list of the selected 28 Senators was arrived at during the Senate Business Committee (SBC) meeting Monday.
The SBC, which is chaired by Speaker Lusaka, generates the business to be transacted in the House. It comprises, among others, the leaders of majority and minority and the whips.
Following the declaration of a dusk-to-dawn curfew by President Kenyatta, the plenary sittings will be held from 2.30pm to 4.30pm to allow members and staff to be at home before 7pm.
In line with the WHO guidelines, the chamber has been reconfigured to sit a maximum of 28 Senators only and in the subsequent sittings until further notice.
Those left out have been requested not to come for the sitting as those designated to sit in the chamber will not at any time during the sitting be replaced by the others.
In accordance with the Ministry of Health advisory, immunosuppressed senators and staff and those with chronic illnesses are encouraged to work from home as they are more at risk of contracting Covid-19.
While in the chamber the senators will use only the designated sitting spaces and will remain at their seats at all times.
As advised by MoH, nobody will be allowed into the Speaker’s gallery except the four technical staff facilitating the sitting.
There will be no consultations at the Speaker’s chair or at the clerk’s table.
This means that it will be out of order for a senator to approach the Speaker or the clerk.