Parliament could shut its doors to slow spread of Coronavirus

Parliament could be forced to shut its doors in a bid to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

Discussions have already taken place between Number 10 and Parliamentary authorities about a plan for Parliament in the event of an outbreak.

It follows fears that MPs – who regularly return to their constituencies around the country – could hasten the spread of the disease.

There are also concerns about the House of Lords – the membership of which includes many elderly peers who could be more vulnerable to the virus.

A senior Number 10 source told the Mirror Parliament would “have to” stay open – but officials and Parliamentary authorities are working together and following Public Health England advice.

It's thought whatever plan is agreed will affect both Houses.

SNP MP Carol Monaghan raised fears about MPs spreading the disease at Prime Minister’s Questions.

She said: “Every week 650 of us come here from every part of the UK, spend several days operating in close proximity and meeting people from all over the world, and we then return to our constituencies, potentially becoming the very vectors that we are trying to shut down.

"Parliament must stay open, but what plans does the Prime Minister have to utilise systems such as conference calls and electronic voting to ensure that we do not become part of the problem?"

Boris Johnson said the Government’s plan to deal with “large gatherings” could include Parliament, and would be set out in the next 48 hours.

He said: “We are still at the containment stage. When we come to the delay phase she'll be hearing a lot more detail about what we propose to do about large gatherings and places such as Parliament."

The PM's official spokesman said: "Discussions are already taking place with parliamentary authorities and scientific and medical advisers.

"I'm sure Parliament will be led by the advice of the experts in terms of taking the steps it needs in order to protect the people who work there."

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