Congress: End of quarantine: what will the activities be like in the Congress of the

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The quarantine or the period of mandatory confinement due to the pandemic of the coronavirus in Lima and other regions of the country. From the Congress of the republicMore than a thousand plant workers and trusted personnel await the order to resume their face-to-face work, but the return will be slow and gradual, and under the so-called “new normal”.

The plenary sessions of the Congress and the commissions will continue to take place virtually through the Microsoft Teams platform, by agreement of the Board of Directors, informed the second vice-president of the Parliament, Guillermo Aliaga (We are Peru).

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At the last meeting of the Board of Directors, it was agreed to maintain this modality “without a tentative end date, to avoid contagion.” Aliaga added that the Human Resources area of ​​the Congress it has already requested a report from parliamentary workers with pre-existing diseases, so as not to include them in the list of personnel who will gradually return to parliamentary facilities.

The ordinary and special committees of the Congress will continue with virtual sessions.  The image shows the members of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations.  (TV Congress)
The ordinary and special committees of the Congress will continue with virtual sessions. The image shows the members of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations. (TV Congress)

Despite the fact that the sessions will be held virtually, the staff of the Official Office, the Parliamentary General Directorate, the Rapporteur’s Departments and the Administration Directorate of the Congress He will work in person, as he has already done, said the general secretary of the Parliament’s workers union, Tulio Vizcarra.

Protection measures

The leader added that COVID-19 discard tests will be carried out, morning and afternoon work schedules will be established to decongest parliamentary offices, and personal protective equipment will be delivered to prevent contagion.. Even so, he said that the remote work modality will be prioritized.

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Meanwhile, the offices of the congressmen will only open when it is very necessary. The legislator Alberto de Belaunde (Purple Party) He commented that he will try to keep the work of his office in a virtual way.

“My concern is that my team is well and protected. […] We should continue to work virtually in the coming weeks ”, he told El Comercio.

Last April, during their first three weeks of office, congressmen resisted suspending activities, but some of them caught coronavirus, such as Leslye Lazo (Popular Action), Fernando Meléndez (Alliance for Progress) and Felipe Castillo (Podemos).

Leslye Lazo (Acción Popular) was the first congresswoman to test positive for coronavirus.  (Photo: Congress of the Republic)
Leslye Lazo (Acción Popular) was the first congresswoman to test positive for coronavirus. (Photo: Congress of the Republic)

Even on April 8, everything was ready for the installation of the ordinary commissions, but a last minute message from the president of the CongressManuel Merino announced the suspension of everything scheduled because a worker tested positive for COVID-19.

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The first commissions that were installed virtually were the follow-up to the emergency of the COVID-19 and the Economic Commission, both on Friday, April 17. Even so, until this month (June), the number of parliamentarians who contracted the virus reached 12.

Advances and difficulties

The technology area of Congress increased his workload when he had to adapt to remote work. The Microsoft Teams platform was installed for plenary sessions, the virtual window was opened (which functions as a table of parties) and electronic DNI readers were implemented so that the congressmen can make their digital signatures in agreements and opinions.

Congressman Aliaga recalled that when he arrived at Parliament “There was nothing implemented to telework, no operating systems or digital platforms. We saw the shortcomings and these have had to be overcome “.

In the midst of a state of emergency, the last session of the face-to-face plenary was held on April 3. In this the Congress approved the regulation that allowed the withdrawal of 25% of the AFP funds. Then virtual sessions were passed. The first was held last Thursday, May 7 and to date there are eight with the same modality.

Aliaga explained that the virtual modality causes that the gathering of signatures of the congressmen in the agreements and opinions take more time. “It is a practical problem. They explained to me that before all the congressmen signed on the spot and with that the opinions were processed quickly. Now the same document has to go from congressman to congressman for the virtual signature, and that sometimes makes the process take a little longer ”, said.

De Belaunde, who was in the period of Congress dissolved, he realized a fundamental problem: not interacting face to face with colleagues from other benches in the facilities of the Congress it prevents personal ties from being created and points in common are found.

“The congress As a physical workspace it is important to establish dialogues between benches and to have more trusting relationships with colleagues. When you attend in person, you talk with other congressmen in the corridors or the rooms, before the sessions begin. In these conversations you find common ground on topics that you thought there was not. The problem with virtual sessions is that there is no space to establish personal relationships, which are important in a collective body like the Congress of the republic, especially in one where there are so many benches and there needs to be a climate that favors consensus ”, said.

Alberto De Belaunde highlighted that the face-to-face sessions of the Congress allowed finding common ground with colleagues from other benches.  In the image, he appears together with former congresswoman Marisa Glave, with whom he agreed on various issues during the period of the dissolved Congress, despite her ideological discrepancies.  (Photo: El Comercio)
Alberto De Belaunde highlighted that the face-to-face sessions of the Congress allowed finding common ground with colleagues from other benches. In the image, he appears together with former congresswoman Marisa Glave, with whom he agreed on several issues during the period of the dissolved Congress, despite her ideological discrepancies. (Photo: El Comercio)

Still, De Belaunde specified that he is in favor of maintaining the virtual sessions. He explained that he uses the Google Hangouts applications (for meetings with his office staff), Zoom (for bench meetings and citizen groups) and Monday (for the administration of parliamentary tasks).

Despite the pandemic, “Congress did not stop,” Tulio Vizcarra explained. “Now the return will be progressive, but previously the protocol must be followed. Vulnerable people and older adults cannot return ”he explained. And those who return will have to adapt to the “new normal”.

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Hours after the publication of this note, Parliament workers reported to this newspaper that they received the following statement from the Human Resources area of ​​Congress.

Parliamentary sources stressed that security personnel, cleaning staff, technicians and cameramen from the Congress channel also attend the Parliament facilities in person.

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