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Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka escorted into the chambers. /CFM-FILE.

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Senate sets 28-member limit in strict social distancing guidelines to defeat COVID-19

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – Only 28 senators will be allowed into the Senate debating chamber as the Upper House resumes its sitting at 2pm on Tuesday after a two week recess.

The decision to limit the number of Senators accessing the chamber was arrived at following a House Business Committee meeting held on Monday as the House leadership considered a raft of measures to ensure social distancing guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health are complied with.

The Senate has 67 members including 47 elected (county delegates) and nominated Senators.

“As part of the preventive measures in place, hand sanitizers and face masks shall be availed at the entrance of the Chamber and the Mini-Chamber for use by all Senators and staff as they enter the Chambers,” the Senate outlines in a brief statement published on Twitter.

Similarly Senators above the age of 56 years have been encouraged to stay away.

The Senate will only allow five print news publication access to cover the proceedings with an order barring members of the public from accessing the precincts of Parliament remaining in force.

“Due to the previous communication regarding the coverage of House business and Social Distancing, only five reporters from Major print media will be allowed in Parliament precinct. Still Camera photographers will be allowed on request through Media Relations Office,” the statement released on Tuesday indicated.

Electronic media will get feed from Parliamentary Broadcast Unit, read the advisory from Parliament’s Media Relations Office.

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Accordingly, members of the public, Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, parastatal will until further notice be required make arrangements to deliver written submissions or responses to various Senate Committees.

“The Senate Chamber shall not be available for Committee Sittings on the days on which the Senate is scheduled to hold its sittings so as to ensure that the Chamber is adequately prepared for Plenary Sittings,” read the directive from the Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye.

According to business listed in Tuesday’s Order Papers, the Senators are expected to consider the formation of an ad hoc committee that will consider and make recommendations on the effects and preparedness of counties on COVID-19.

Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia), Abshiro Halake (Nominated), Mithika Linturi (Meru), Okong’o Mogeni (Nyamira), Sylvia Kasanga (Nominated) and Mohamed Faki, (Mombasa) have been nominated to sit in the Ad Hoc Committee.

The committee will table a progress report within seven days and thereafter table a progress report on a weekly basis, and subsequently table a final report within six months.

Kenya currently has 50 confirmed cases.

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