The re-opening of public galleries in the Assembly and the social distancing measures were put in place
Information Standards Freedom of Information Response
Our Ref: FOI 28-22
20 June 2022
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”)
I am writing to confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (Assembly Commission) has processed your request dated 20 May 2022 in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In your request, you asked:
“Please confirm the date when the public galleries in the Assembly were re-opened to the public following restrictions put in place due to the Covid pandemic.
Please confirm whether any social distancing measures were in place when the public galleries re-opened and whether any social distancing measures remain in place today.”
The public galleries in the Assembly Chamber have been available to use on two occasions since the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic were removed, namely 13 May 2022 and 30 May 2022.
On each occasion, although there were no longer any Regulations in respect of the pandemic, the Assembly Commission encouraged users to sit in alternate seats (thereby maintaining a distance of approximately 1m between users).
Currently, the public galleries are not in use as the Assembly is not conducting normal business. Seating arrangements will be reviewed again when the public galleries return to use.
You have the right to request a formal review by the Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address. If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.
The Assembly Commission may publish details of your FOI request and our official response within the organisational disclosure log. The request will be completely anonymised and you will not be identified in any way. This is to meet the requirements as laid out by in the agreed publication scheme with the Information Commissioners’ Office.