Colour-coded passes, restricted visiting hours: Parliament steps up against coronavirus

Parliament will restrict the movement of visitors and their entry when it reassembles after Holi on March 11 as a step to contain coronavirus, which has affected 31 people in India so far.

It has also issued a health advisory in view of the outbreak of coronavirus, which causes a flu-like respiratory illness that can kill and has spread to around 80 countries.

“Simple public health measures of hand and respiratory hygiene be practised. Large gathering within the precincts of Parliament House Estate may be avoided. Visitors other than those, which are essential for official/operational reasons, maybe strictly restricted,” the advisory said.

The directions, which have been issued to both Houses, also say those coming to meet the members of Parliament at the reception would be allowed to stay only for an hour. It also adds that the members will not be able to take their visitors on a tour of Parliament.

News agency Asian News International also reported that authorities will now issue colour-coded passes—white, blue and red—to reduce overcrowding in Parliament.

“The Public Gallery pass which is for visitors to watch the proceedings of the house will be of white colour and these visitors are not permitted in any other area of the parliament,” the directions said, according to ANI.

It said security personnel have been directed to ensure visitors leave the building as soon as the proceedings are over.

“The casual visitors will have a blue colour pass. These are people visiting party offices and MPs and would be issued a pass only for outer precincts of the parliament house and in non-restricted areas only,” it said.

“These visitors are not permitted to enter through building gates of parliament house. The MPs are requested to meet them at outer precincts or at the reception,” it added.

According to the new directions, those who with an appointment to meet the Rajya Sabha chairperson, Lok Sabha’s secretary general, Speaker, Prime Minister, deputy speakers, ministers and ministry of parliamentary affairs will be issued a red pass.

These red passes will allow visitors to go to their respective offices only through authorised gates.

Sanjeeva Kumar, special secretary (health) with the Union health ministry, said on Friday that a resident of Delhi’s Uttam Nagar has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking the number of infected people in the country to 31.

“The patient has travel history from Thailand and Malaysia,” Kumar said.

The government has stepped up measures to stop the spread coronavirus by widening the number of people under watch for the illness to close to 30,000 and ordering primary schools in the national capital to be closed for the rest of the month, among other ways to contain the infection.

More than 3200 people worldwide have died from the respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia.