After a long Christmas break and a subsequent lockdown from January 10 to 16 due to COVID-19 infections, the Senate resumed plenary session Monday, Jan. 17 only to be closed for another week starting tomorrow as the number of Senate employees down by COVID-19 increased.
The lockdown was announced tonight by the Senate Secretariat upon instruction of Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III ‘’and in view of the rising number of employees who have recently tested positive for COVID-19.’’
‘’We want to allow COVID-19 surge to simmer down,’’ Sotto said.
‘’Too many positives and in quarantine both with the Secretariat and senators’ staff,’’he added.
The Secretariat said that work suspension would be extended for the period January 18-23, 2022,
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said there are now 88 active cases ‘’plus a number of those under Home Quarantine that are around 196 in total.’’
‘’So medyo kulang ang personnel natin sa Senado (The Senate appears to have less personnel because they were hit by COVID-19}. Our Medical head suggested that we continue with the work holiday to allow the staff to recover,’’ Zubiri added.
The closure would give way to the thorough sanitation and disinfection of the Senate building and premises and to curb the further spread of the virus, the Secretariat explained.
The Secretariat also said employees are reminded to continue to make themselves available to answer inquiries from and to render assistance to their immediate supervisors through the various means of communication under a work from home arrangement.
‘’In the event that committee hearings, technical working group meetings and all other meetings have already been scheduled, these shall be conducted virtually,’’ it explained.
‘’It bears repeating that everyone is enjoined to refrain from making non-essential trips. Everyone is likewise reminded to observe all health protocols to ensure safety and protection in and outside one’s residence and workplace. These protocols include reporting one’s suspected COVID-19 symptoms and exposure to persons who manifest COVID-19 symptoms to competent authorities, including the Medical and Dental Bureau and respective head of office,’’ it added.