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Social distance key as Parliament reconvenes

The Gibraltar Parliament will meet today for the first time in over two months since meetings were suspended amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The move was welcomed by both Opposition parties, the GSD and Together Gibraltar, and the Government said it has worked closely with the Parliament in order to find solutions to facilitate the meeting.

The meeting will therefore take place in a way which upholds the rules of social distancing.

This means that Members of Parliament, on both sides of the House, will be sitting in two rows one in front of the other. This has been achieved by adding another bench behind the existing benches.

In response to Opposition questions, the Government vowed to defend its record in relation to the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the success of its policies to date.

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said: "I am very much looking forward to returning to Parliament. We have an important Bill to pass in relation to insolvency and I will be making a statement on the work done since Parliament last met in dealing with the Covid pandemic.”

“We will also deal with questions filed by members of the opposition, which is an important part of the business of Parliament and the reason why, since I became Chief Minister, we have always striven to have a monthly meeting of Parliament to allow for opposition questions.”

“We have fulfilled that commitment every month we have been able to, except in the period of high intensity in Brexit negotiations. We are coming to Parliament whilst there is still a Major Incident ongoing because it is our strong democratic instinct to subject ourselves to scrutiny whenever it is possible.”

“There will no doubt be a lot to talk about and debate, but I do hope we will be able to maintain a respectful tone throughout."

The Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “We look forward to the return on Parliament [on Thursday] so we can in a more public way question Government on a range of important Covid and non-Covid issues.”

“We are expecting the June session to be the meeting we are fully back to normal. It’s good for democracy for Parliament to return so Government can be held to account and is a further sign of a gradual return to a new normality.”

Together Gibraltar Leader, Marlene Hassan, said: “The return to Parliamentary activity was a long overdue necessity.”

“Politicians have to lead by example, so we should be seen to return to confidently while scrupulously abiding by all public health recommendations.”

“Furthermore, recent events have seen a united front between Government and the GSD, often excluding Together Gibraltar from briefings and access to pandemic management information, so this will be an opportunity for us to ask questions and get up to speed with things.”

“We believe that, as long as the overarching public interest is prioritised particularly regarding the health of our citizens, suspending Government scrutiny can only lead to worse governance and an impoverishment of our democracy.”