SINGAPORE: The opening of the first session of the 14th Parliament on Monday (Aug 24) will take place at Parliament House and the Arts House.
This is the first time that an opening of Parliament will be held in more than one location, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament said in a press release on Friday.
"In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Singapore and the safe distancing measures that have to be implemented, Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin has decided that the proceedings on Aug 24 will take place across the two locations as an added precaution," said the office.
The Arts House is one of four appointed places where Parliament may be held under continuity arrangements set out in the Constitution.
The other places are the NTUC Centre, the Treasury and the Civil Service College. All four places may be used for the first session of the 14th Parliament, which may be held from Aug 24 to Nov 20 inclusive.
"These appointed places have been found suitable for Parliament and its committees to sit, meet and despatch business should continuity arrangements be activated," the office said.
"The places were selected after considering factors including accessibility, seating capacity and ready availability of facilities and amenities such as restrooms and refreshment rooms."
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The Arts House was chosen for the opening of Parliament due to factors including its proximity to Parliament House and sufficient seating capacity for proceedings with safe distancing measures, said the office.
Aside from Members of Parliament (MPs), guests are traditionally invited to be present as observers of the opening. Parliament Secretariat staff and additional support personnel will also be deployed for the proceedings, the press release added.
On Monday, MPs, guests and staff will be spread across both Parliament House and The Arts House. MPs will take their oaths and make their affirmations from the Chamber in their respective locations, the office said.
President Halimah Yacob will deliver her address from the Chamber in Parliament House. At each location, there will be simultaneous screening of proceedings at the other location.
"Safe distancing measures will be implemented at both locations. To further reduce mingling, there will be no Speaker’s reception after the President’s address at either location," the office said.
As Parliament sittings after Monday will be attended by MPs only, with no invited guests, Parliament expects such sittings to resume at Parliament House only, said the office, adding that COVID-19 safe distancing measures will continue at these regular sittings.
"Nonetheless, Parliament will continue to closely monitor the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Singapore and keep abreast of advisories to see if further precautionary measures are needed for forthcoming sittings," the office said.