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Parliament is set to hold its first full session in a year that will see some relaxations for members, including a revised seating arrangement following a considerable ebbing of the pandemic.

However, a bar on the entry of visitors, social distancing and other health norms will continue, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla said on Monday after reviewing preparations for the upcoming session that will start on 19 July and continue till 13 August. The past three sessions had to be curtailed due to the pandemic, while the 2020 winter session was cancelled.

More than 311 or 58% of 540 Lok Sabha MPs have been administered both doses of the covid vaccine and most of the remaining MPs have received at least one shot, Birla said. But those who are yet to take their first shot would need to undergo RT-PCR tests before joining the monsoon session.

For the past two sessions, MPs of both Houses had to adapt to a dispersed seating arrangement that included sitting even in the other House. But, this time, an MP will be seated in his or her own House, but some lawmakers might have to take their seats in the galleries. The table office, legislative section and such vital departments have come under the Speaker’s scrutiny. Ambulances, health centres and covid testing facilities have also been kept ready for the session.

“Adequate measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the members. MPs who have taken at least one dose of vaccination will not be required to undertake an RT-PCR test. Visitors will not be allowed during the session," said Birla.

An all-party meeting will be organized on 18 July to discuss the agendas of various parties. The Opposition is keen to debate about the Centre’s vaccination policy, economic situation and price rise, among other issues. Birla reminded that despite covid, the current Lok Sabha has transacted record business in the first five sessions compared to previous ones. He urged members not to disrupt proceedings and “focus on raising issues through proper debate and discussion".

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