House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle (Image: PA)
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The House of Commons will be "buzzing again" as curbs on the number of MPs allowed in the chamber are set to be lifted from next week.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has written to MPs with new Covid guidance for the Parliamentary estate in a move which will see Westminster slowly return to normality.
But the new guidance has been lambasted by parliamentary staff, after it emerged masks will still be compulsory for them but optional for MPs.
In a section in the new rules entitled 'Outside the Chamber', MPs' staffers are told: “Until 22 July, Members will be encouraged to continue wearing face coverings, and all others on the estate will be required to wear them while moving around the estate or entering venues."
One MP's assistant told the Mirror: "I don’t get it, where’s the science for it? Parliament still won’t be functioning properly if it isn’t fully manned in offices by staff, and it’s one rule for one and really s*** basically."
In his letter to MPs, Sir Lindsay House of Commons Commission had agreed Covid restrictions would start winding down from next Monday as lockdown comes to an end in England.
Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons
The so-called “hybrid model”, which enables MPs to participate in proceedings of the House remotely, will continue to July 22 when the House breaks for the summer.
The Speaker said that if there were no further changes to the Government’s road map, they would return to “fully physical proceedings” when the House returns in September while advisory notices will be removed.
The return of a fuller chamber could transform Wednesday's sessions of Prime Minister's Questions, when Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer have their most high-profile clash at the despatch box.
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“We are moving into an exciting new phase where we can finally begin to open up the House of Commons for business,” he said.
“I look forward to seeing the House buzzing again, and to welcoming back so many colleagues who we haven’t seen for many months due to the pandemic.”
The Prime Minister set out his plans to ease the remaining lockdown curbs at a Downing Street press conference on Monday.
While the legal requirement to wear face masks indoors will be dropped later this month, Government guidance will tell people they are still advised to wear them.