Members of Parliament (MPs) will have to undergo COVID-19 tests at least 72 hours before the monsoon session of Parliament begins, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday. He added that the seating arrangements would be made based on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s guidelines. Reports state the monsoon session is expected to begin on September 14 and will likely come to an end on October 1.

A meeting with officials from the Health Ministry, the Indian Council for Medical Research, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Delhi government was convened by Mr Birla in order to discuss regarding the final arrangements that need to be carried out ahead of the monsoon session, which will be the first since the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The Speaker stated that all persons entering the Parliament premises, including officials from all ministries, media representatives, staff of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats and the MPs will get tested for COVID-19. He added, "Comprehensive arrangements have been made for holding the session." Mr Birla also said that zero-touch security checks during the session have been arranged, with preparations for random tests also done. 

After a meeting with the Secretary Generals of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Mr Birla in a series of tweets said, "Smooth transaction of business of Parliament during Monsoon Session is our priority. In this regard, chaired a meeting today to review preparations. Directed all concerned agencies to work diligently for  sanitization and other arrangements." He added, "Necessary protocols are being prepared for Hon’ble Members and their staff. Guidelines are also being formulated for the Parliament officials. All guidelines pertaining to Social Distancing will be adhered to during Session."

According to reports, once the monsoon session begins, the proceedings in each house will go on for four hours per day - with one session in the morning and another in the evening. Seats will also be earmarked for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leaders of the House and the Opposition. However, an official notification in this regard is yet to be made.