Implications of COVID-19 on the Senedd Commission and services to Members of the Senedd
This page gives details of any meetings held which will, or did, discuss the matter, and includes links to the relevant Papers, Agendas and Minutes.
Note: Meeting Agenda can change at short notice. Particularly where future meeting dates are indicated more than a week in advance. Please check before planning to attend a Committee Meeting that the item you are interested in has not been moved.
Commissioners were informed about the latest update to the covid regulations. They discussed the information available in relation to the uptake of LFTs for those attending onsite.
Commissioners discussed the intention to reinforce messaging about measures in place to keep the estate safe and minimise impacts on business continuity.
Commissioners noted the information and commented on the importance of people knowing about the Senedd’s identification number for LFT reporting, and of needing to recognise where people continue to be impacted by the virus in different ways.
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Commissioners considered, and agreed, a draft Returning Services Priority Matrix, which would be used as a route-map to continue the reintroduction of services, and by extension repatriating services back to virtual as necessary should the Welsh Government guidance on covid-19 related matters change/become heightened.
They considered the likelihood that hybrid working would need to remain in place and recognised the need to enable Members to participate in business. Commissioners agreed that existing measures would remain in place for the remainder of the term, and that Lateral Flow Tests would be made available for the start of the new term, as an additional precaution.
Options for public engagement activities on the Senedd estate
Commissioners noted the information provided about steps taken to re-commence public engagement activities on the Senedd estate, reintroducing managed access to the public to view Plenary meetings and for Members to host events with stakeholders.
Commission were provided with an update on arrangements in place whilst the Senedd continues to operate under the current Welsh Government regulations and guidance. Matters raised encompassed preparedness for the next phases of restrictions, staff welfare (including impacts of home schooling, caring responsibilities, bereavements, and illness), dynamic redeployment and re-prioritisation of activities, and the pressures being felt across the organisation.
Commissioners were provided with an update on arrangements in place whilst the Senedd continues to operate under the current Welsh Government regulations and guidance, and assurance that monitoring for next steps is ongoing.
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Commissioners considered a paper providing updates on the operation of the Commission under the Welsh Government regulations and guidance, as at 23 October. They were updated orally on more recent developments, and discussed the updated Welsh Government restrictions announced to follow on from the firebreak period, and noted that the Llywydd will take decisions in consultation with Business Committee on the format for plenary.
Commissioners discussed the matter of public engagement activity based on the estate during the covid restrictions. Having considered aspects relating to safety, planning, and effective staff deployment, they agreed an extended period of closure to the public whereby the working assumption will be that the estate remains closed to the public and for public engagement activity until Dissolution of the Fifth Senedd. They also agreed that should circumstances relating to Covid-19 change dramatically during that period this decision may be re-visited.
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A. Covid-19 update
Commissioners noted the update provided, on arrangements that will be in place for the autumn term, and discussed the recent changes to Welsh Government regulations and guidance. They agreed to extend the
current closure to the public until 8 November in order for the arrangements in terms of occupancy of the building to be considered at their next meeting, following the experience of the first half of term and taking account of the position at that time.
B. Options for increasing in-person plenary attendance
Commissioners considered options to increase the capacity of the Siambr for attendance of Members during plenary meetings beyond the current ability, whilst the 2m social distancing remains in place.
They concluded that, whilst it was important to have considered the options, in the circumstance they should not be pursued at this time.
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Commissioners were updated about the experiences of the previous week’s first hybrid plenary, which had gone very smoothly and been a testament to hard work and commitment by everyone involved.
They went on to discuss some of the themes emerging from the Business Committee’s consideration of future business needs and asked that work be done in preparation for the autumn term to explore options for delivery.
Commissioners were provided with an indication of necessary adjustments to Commission services to Members over the recess period and discussed the need for staff to use accrued leave and to have a period to plan for next steps.
Commissioners reviewed information detailing the impact that Covid-19 has had on this year’s finances, which had also been requested by the Finance Committee.
Commissioners noted the update provided and requested a paper be prepared for their next meeting setting out options for increasing the number of Members able to participate in plenary without the need to be remote in the medium to longer term.
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Commissioners were updated about arrangements in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They also considered the aims, principles and working assumptions that are forming the basis to guide preparations for a return to the estate.
Commissioners noted the update and were supportive of preparations being made for a return to the estate. They supported the approach to plans for any return to the estate, in which initial arrangements are for a 10% occupancy level, in order to test our arrangements thoroughly and to maintain a safe environment, as far as possible.
They also discussed the longer perspective in terms of lessons learned and new ways of working for a more resilient and flexible future.
Letter from the Chair of the Finance Committee
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Commissioners notes the Finance Committee’s request for information, and agreed that the portfolio holder respond on their behalf due to the timing requested for the response, sharing that response with them.
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Commissioners were provided with a summary of the approach, decisions and actions taken by the Commission to manage the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to maintain essential parliamentary activity whilst keeping Members, staff and the public safe.
They also noted a summary of decisions taken by the Remuneration Board to date on Covid-19 response.
Commissioners discussed the delivery to date and thanked all the staff involved in the background work to enable the continuation of parliamentary business. They followed this with a wider discussion about the period ahead, considering the relationship between decisions made by Business Committee about business and resources provided to support those activities. The recognised the demands placed on particular teams by remote working and the importance of resilience and robust approaches to delivery.
Commissioners asked to be kept abreast of developments in planning for next steps.
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Having been briefed, Commissioners considered actions already taken, what is being done and decisions needed at this point in time in response to coronavirus, Covid-19. They agreed actions in relation to current trigger points and discussed practical and business continuity arrangements.
The Commission decided that public engagement activities will stop from Tuesday 17 March, and not resume before 26 April. Buildings will close to the public except for those attending or observing formal proceedings of the Assembly. The Commission also decided to postpone the Senedd’s week of business in the north east later this Summer.
Commissioners also discussed the need to support staff directly and indirectly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and the need to continue to provide relevant guidance to Assembly Members relating to their own staff and offices.
Commissioners confirmed their support for the proposed approach and agreed the decision-making processes, recognising there would be a need for further decisions to be taken.