Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Parliament to reopen, but at the Filoxenia

The Philoxenia conference centre in Nicosia

As of next week the legislature will resume normal operations, with MPs physically present, although they will be working out of the Filoxenia conference centre in Nicosia rather than the parliament building.

The matter was decided during a teleconference of party leaders.

The next plenum is scheduled for Tuesday May 19; and as of May 20 parliamentary committees will be reconvening with lawmakers in physical attendance, likewise at the Filoxenia.

In a statement, Diko’s parliamentary spokesman Panicos Leonidou said his party disagreed with the move to the Filoxenia.

“We feel that the relocation to the conference centre, other than entailing additional costs, will also lead to practical difficulties to the functioning of the parliamentary committees,” he said in a statement.

“We are confident that with a little good will, we could have ensured the smooth operation of parliamentary committees in their natural space, as is the case with all departments in the public and private sectors… by following the prescribed safety measures.”

Parliament will be working out of the Filoxenia at least until the end of July, when the House breaks for the summer recess.

“Ostensibly we’re moving because of the Covid-19 spacing requirements,” a parliamentarian told the Cyprus Mail. “Why the Filoxenia specifically? Not sure, apparently there’s more elbow room.”

According to media reports, the Filoxenia was the most costly of four options considered as an interim alternative to the parliament building.

The cost of operating out of the conference centre is estimated at around €5,000 a week. However, neither MPs’ support staff not parliamentary administrative staff will have their own offices at the Filoxenia.

Lawmakers’ return to normal routine coincides with the relaxations of the restrictive measures related to the coronavirus. Since the restrictions in March, MPs have been working remotely via teleconference sessions.

It’s understood that as of next week journalists will also be physically present at the Filoxenia to cover House business.

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