Photo of Members of Parliament was likely taken after yesterday's, Thursday 7, opening of Parliament. Photo/Government

While most of the world practises social-distancing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, the Tongan parliamentarians have been spotted sitting and standing side by side.

A photo published by the government’s website yesterday, appears to show the Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament were not observing social-distancing measures.

The photo was likely taken after the Parliament’s 2020 / 2021 session opening ceremony.

Ironically, the king did not join the MPs in Parliament at yesterday’s opening ceremony because he wanted to keep the Covid-19 restrictions measures in place.

His Majesty delivered his opening speech through a livestreamed video from the palace.

The government repeatedly announced and reminded the public to observe social distancing by staying at least 1.5 metres apart.

A Ministry of Education statement released last week to announce the government’s students free bus fare package said:

“A high number of buses are being utilised for transportation to ensure that social distancing is reasonably practiced as per direction from the Ministry of Health.”

Last month, Tonga Police have arrested 568 people since a state of emergency was declared on 28 March to try and counter Covid-19.

357 of those arrested had allegedly breached the lockdown rules or obstructed officers.

There have been no confirmed Covid-19 cases in Tonga.

Parliament’s Chief Clerk had been contacted for comment.


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