Coronavirus: Quebec MNAs get green light to physically head back to National Assembly

The parliamentary return to Quebec’s National Assembly can take place as planned on Feb. 2 and elected officials will be invited to appear in person at the Salon Bleu amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Canadian Press learned Thursday that Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec public health, has given the green light to MNAs to head physically back to work.

Arruda, therefore, bowed to the arguments of the province’s three opposition parties, which insisted that part of the parliamentary work should continue in a physical format. The goal is to allow exchanges between MNAs, most notably for question period and the study of potential laws.

The Legault government had advocated for a completely virtual return to the provincial legislature.

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For weeks, leaders of the opposition parties and the provincial government had been negotiating to come to a consensus for the next parliamentary session’s format and had requested input from public health.

Since last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, strict health measures have been in place at the provincial legislature to prevent the spread of the virus.

All 125 MNAs are not allowed to be in the room at the same time. Under the plan, fewer than 40 elected officials are permitted to be in the Salon Bleu at once, and they must maintain a suitable physical distance.

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Since July 18, 2020, anyone in the National Assembly buildings must wear a mask.

Over the course of the health crisis, the legislature has been practically deserted: most of the employees of the National Assembly are working from home and the buildings are off-limits to visitors.

With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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