Coronavirus: Public tours and school visits to Parliament cancelled amid COVID-19 concern

People exit the "Beehive" building at the New Zealand Parliament on Lambton Quay in downtown Wellington, New Zealand, November 28, 2017. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

Public tours and school visits to Parliament in Wellington have been cancelled to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect people in the precinct. 

The public gallery and select committee meetings will remain open to the public, subject to ongoing review, but the public tours and school visits have been put on hold until further notice. 

Parliamentary Service general manager Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said in a statement that the public tours will be cancelled from Tuesday while school visits will be cancelled from Monday next week. 

The Beehive café Copperfield's will be closed to all members of the public unless they are accompanied by a staff member or Member of Parliament. 

"Apart from changes to tours, school visits and visitors to Copperfield's, no other decisions have been made," Gonzalez-Montero said.  

All bathrooms on the parliamentary precinct will receive one extra clean each day, he added, increasing the cleaning to three times a day. 

Gonzalez-Montero said there are also plans for a "deep clean" of the chamber, galleries and select committee rooms once a week in addition to the regular cleaning they receive.

"There will be regular sanitations of surfaces in public spaces, particularly reception desks, and hand sanitizer will be available at reception desks and from additional dispensers throughout the precinct in high traffic areas."

As for events at Parliament, they may continue to be held at this stage, and Parliamentary Service will be following guidance from the Ministry of Health. 

The coronavirus COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week and so far eight New Zealanders have been infected.