Overseas travel & visits to UK Parliament suspended
In line with the latest Government advice and guidance from Public Health England, all visitor access to the Parliamentary Estate ceased from 17 March 2020 with access be restricted to official passholders and those on essential Parliamentary business. For full details read below and check for updates.
Decision by Speakers of both Houses
This decision, consistent with the latest Government advice, was taken by the Speakers of both Houses, in consultation with Public Health England. The steps were supported by the Clerks of both Houses and Parliamentary authorities.
The viewing galleries, used by visitors to watch proceedings in the Chambers, were closed and democratic access tours of Parliament ended, along with commercial tours. The Education Centre was closed and school tours were also paused.
MPs, Peers, Parliamentary staff and other members of the Parliamentary community continued to be able to work on the Estate where necessary, but were strongly encouraged to work from home where possible.
In reference to access restrictions placed on Parliament on 13 March 2020, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle and the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler said:
“We are resolved that Parliament should, insofar as possible, continue to fulfil its important constitutional duties of passing legislation, holding Government to account and, crucially, representing the views of the people of the United Kingdom and making their voice heard.
“In order to preserve the operation of Parliament, it is our duty to take proportionate and reasonable measures to reduce the risk to those who work on the Parliamentary Estate and those who have to visit.
“We are clear that now is the time to be pragmatic; everyone in the country is being asked to strike a balance and it is right that we do the same.
“It is in this spirit that we have decided to implement a number of restrictions relating to overseas travel and visitor access. These steps have been developed in conjunction with Public Health England and reflect the Government’s current approach.”
An additional Statement was released by Lord Speaker on 17 March 2020.
Parliamentary travel suspended
The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a coronavirus pandemic and the virus was circulating in many countries. Parliamentary authorities initially advised against inward and outward parliamentary travel to certain countries and regions as specified by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For further information see: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Parliamentary authorities also strongly discouraged parliamentary travel to other countries, and asked Members, committees, APPGs, and partner organisations like BGIPU to closely assess the risk of visits on a case-by-case basis, taking into account whether any delegates fall within vulnerable groups.
Subsequently, on 17 March, the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, issued a COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice noting that as countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel for 30 days and that any country or area may restrict travel without notice.