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The Senate of Canada building and Senate Chamber are pictured in Ottawa in 2019.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The pandemic has prompted a week-long delay in the start of Senate sittings this year, until Feb. 8, but the House of Commons will resume as scheduled on Jan. 31.

Both chambers will feature hybrid sittings, allowing senators and MPs to participate on site or from elsewhere through videoconference technology.

The Senate was supposed to resume in-person work on Feb. 1, but spokesperson Ross Ryan said in a statement that a consensus was reached that the return should be delayed to help mitigate a surge in COVID-19 infections linked to the Omicron variant.

Mr. Ryan said on Wednesday that, based on a motion adopted last November, senators can hold hybrid sessions until March 31.

Senate Speaker George Furey consulted the leaders and facilitators of all recognized parties and parliamentary groups.

A statement said the rules of the Senate allow the speaker to extend a period of adjournment if it is deemed that the public interest does not require it to meet at the originally specified date and time.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Government House Leader Mark Holland noted that a motion passed in November allows hybrid sittings in the House of Commons through June 23.

Liberals and New Democrats united to pass the motion over the objections of Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs who had wanted a return to normal in-person operations.

“With the House scheduled to return on Jan. 31, we are preparing to make use of the flexibility offered by our hybrid motion in order to keep our communities safe, and we hope that other parties will do the same,” communications director Mark Kennedy wrote.

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