" /> Could parliament be closed because of the coronavirus?
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Advice to those with coronavirus is to self-isolate, avoid large public crowds and stop shaking hands with people.

Based on that advice, an MP would be one of the worst people to get the disease as their time is spent travelling around the country shaking hands and meeting people.

They have been described as “superspreaders” who risk transmitting the virus to many members of the public, particularly those who would be more vulnerable to the health risks it poses.

In that case, would it be for the best if parliament closed down for a while to prevent MPs from becoming a health risk to the public?

Health minister Nadine Dorries has confirmed that she has tested positive for coronavirus and is therefore following self-isolation advice, with Labour MP Rachael Maskell doing the same after coming into contact with Dorries.

She first showed symptoms on Thursday, the same day she attended an event hosted by prime minister Boris Johnson. If he or any other MPs start showing symptoms then all the people they’ve met over the last few days could be at risk.

The idea of closing parliament to avoid spreading coronavirus was discussed during emergency planning, with many members of the House of Lords considered to be at risk of the disease due to their age.

A number of older peers with health concerns, the demographic coronavirus poses the most danger to, have said they are considering not attending parliament for their own safety.

Plans for bringing forward parliament’s Easter recess, due to occur on March 31, were discussed along with suggestions for MPs not to return to Westminster once it was over. It was suggested that parliament could be shut until September in the most drastic of cases.

Parliament is a major tourist attraction so the chance that someone could catch Covid-19 from a visit exists and the number of people they would come into contact with would be very high.

Closing parliament might be the safest thing to prevent politicians from spreading the virus among the public. 

However, the emergency discussions over closing parliament concluded that shutting down Westminster would be “premature” despite concerns from speaker Lindsay Hoyle.

A number of MPs believe it would be very difficult to shut parliament and have suggested doing some less controversial measures before shutting the whole place down. More hand sanitiser and more sinks with hot water would help with hand washing.

Closing parliament would also grant the government emergency powers which would require MPs to vote on continuing or stopping them every 28 days, meaning parliament would still need to be open at least one day a month.

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