The Senate is on partial lockdown after two of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Senate President Vicente Sotto III announced Tuesday.

“We are already in semi-lockdown. I was just briefed by the Senate Secretary of the request of some employees. There are also hearings and work to be conducted by Senators’ offices, so we cannot declare a total lockdown,” Sotto said.

Sotto also said that the salaries of their employees will not be processed if they pushed for a total lockdown situation, but emphasized that employees are free not to come to work physically in the office if they feel unsafe. 

“The persons exposed to the two employees have already passed their 14 days self-quarantine,” he shared.

The Senate Medical and Dental Bureau data shows  16 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the upper chamber: 2 active cases, 1 fatality, and 13 recoveries.

10 of the Senate infections were from the Secretariat while 6 were from senators’ offices. 

Last May 4, 18 Senate employees tested positive for COVID-19 via rapid testing conducted ahead of the resumption of session. 

The session in Congress is now in sine die adjourned but “hybrid” hearings are being conducted via teleconferencing and physical attendance of senators and their staff.  (RJ Espartinez)