States Assembly 19th and 20th May


20th May 2020

The States Assembly held a virtual sitting on Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th May 2020

Questions Without Notice 

Deputy Rob Ward questioned the Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf about the length of proposed contact tracing. The Minister for Health and Social Services stated that he couldn't give an exact number of days the contact tracing would go back. He suggested that the aim is to track all persons who may have picked up the infection as a result of contact.

Deputy Mike Higgins asked The Minister for International Development, Carolyn Labey about the provision of Aid to refugees in Rohingya. Deputy Labey stated that Jersey's overseas aid is continuing at this time by working with the UN.

Deputy Carina Alves then asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf to confirm if it is still the case that people are not attending their hospital appointments or whether any appointments have been cancelled? The Health Minister explained that routine services in the hospital have been cancelled at this time, he added that the hospital is now in a position to plan the process of bringing people back as soon as possible.

Deputy Geoff Southern asked the Chief Minister, John Le Fondré to publish a report on the Financial and Economic impacts of COVID-19. The Chief Minister stated that the aim is indeed to publish the findings by Thursday 21st May and that the magnitude of the impact of COVID-19 will be the focus of the report.

Deputy Inna Gardiner asked the Treasury Minister, Susie Pinel if there is any guidance for those working from home who are incurring expenses as a result of COVID-19, specifically those working for businesses who are not covered by the co-funding scheme, on how to claim money back. The Minister for Treasury and Resources advised Deputy Gardiner that companies who do not benefit from the co-funding scheme will need to address the issue of expenses themselves.

Deputy Kirsten Morel then questioned the Health Minister, Richard Renouf and asked what the plan is to address long term symptoms for those who have had COVID-19? The Health Minister said that those who have symptoms will remain under the care of their GP and the hospital, if necessary.

STATEMENTS

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SECURITY 

The Minster for Social Security, Judy Martin made a statement on Family Friendly legislation. 

You can read the statement HERE

The Social Security Minister explained that last October Members had approved a comprehensive set of family friendly employment rights for parents, with the aim to bring forward parental benefit regulation so that the cost of paid parental leave would be shared between the Government and employer. The timetable was suggested for Summer 2020. The Minister explained how the disruption of COVID-19 had impacted the original timetable meaning the new laws wouldn't be completed by July 2020.  

The Minister then announced that instead she is bringing forward the appointed 'day act' for the family friendly employment law changes, which would come into force late June 2020. 


MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUTURE

The Minister for Infrastructure, Kevin Lewis made a statement about the reallocation of certain roads to allow for alternative forms of travel dring COVID-19. 

You can read the statement HERE

He stated "The first measure we are looking at is the temporary closure of Broad Street to motor traffic except for commercial deliveries between specified times. It is planned that the temporary closure will start from Saturday 23rd May, the beginning of the summer half-term."

Deputy Kevin Pamplin asked the Minister why the bus will not be allowed on Broad Street due to the bus stop's popularity and heavy use. The Minister for Infrastructure, Kevin Lewis advised that it has been deemed unsafe for pedestrians for the bus to use this road, but added that this is only a temporary measure.

Senator Ferguson asked whether the Minister had considered the access to the post office, changes in traffic flow and the bus stops? Deputy Lewis advised that he had considered all these factors, stating that safety is the top priority. He also added that cyclists will be allowed through this area, but it is mostly for pedestrians. 

Deputy Rob Ward then asked the Minister if he will support the continuation of measures post pandemic in order to continue the vibrancy of St Helier. The Minister stated that a plan is currently in process, which includes utilising ideas from the Netherlands. 

The Assembly then moved onto Public Business:

DRAFT COVID-19 (WORKPLACE RESTRICTIONS) (JERSEY) REGULATIONS

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf then proposed changes to the Draft COVID-19 (Workplace Restrictions) Regulations. This proposal would make it an offence, punishable by a fine, to open a workplaces which contravene the restriction order. The regulations would also provide legal measures to support the relaxation controls to protect against the spread of COVID-19, supporting a safe back to business transition. 

READ THE PROPOSAL HERE

The Health and Social Services Minister, Richard Renouf's Draft COVID-19 Workplace restriction regulations were ADOPTED in the first reading.

34 FOR vs 0 AGAINST

In the second reading Richard Renouf, the Minister for Health and Social Services then presented the amended regulations in the Draft COVID-19 (Workplace Restriction) proposal. 

READ THE PROPOSAL HERE

The Health and Social Services Minister's amendments to the Draft COVID-19 Workplace restriction regulations were ADOPTED in the second reading. 

Regulations 1 & 2:  33 FOR vs 0 AGAINST

Regulation 3: 30 FOR vs 0 AGAINST 

Regulations 4 to 9: 31 FOR vs 0 AGAINST

The Health and Social Services Minister's amendments to the Draft COVID-19 Workplace Restriction Regulations were ADOPTED in the third reading.

43 FOR vs 0 AGAINST

DRAFT COVID-19 (CIVIL PARTNERSHIP AND MARRIAGE) (JERSEY) REGULATIONS 202

The Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman then lodged a proposal to amend the Marriage and Civil Status Law to temporarily change the administration process required before marriage which is currently suspended until 1st July 2020. The aim of the proposal is to restart the processes using an audio visual link  to protect couples and staff from infection.

READ THE PROPOSAL HERE

There was very little debate on the topic and it quickly went to a vote. 

The Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman's proposal to amend the Marriage and Civil Status Law was ADOPTED
 
39 FOR vs 0 AGAINST
 

COVID-19 ELIMINATION STRATEGY

Deputy Jess Perchard then lodged a proposal requesting that the Chief Minister, John Le Fondré develop and implement a new 'COVID-19 elimination strategy'. The proposal states that the plan should contain measures to eliminate infectious diseases, case detection through widespread testing, rapid case isolation and contact tracing, intensive hygiene promotion, border controls, physical distancing and a co-ordinated communication strategy for elimination. Deputy Perchard also requested that the Chief Minister publish this 'elimination strategy' in a report to the States within 2 weeks if the proposition was adopted, and to publish updated versions of the plan whenever changes are made with the aim that everyone remains fully informed about the strategy. 

READ THE PROPOSAL HERE

The Chief Minister, John Le Fondré proposed a series of changes to the wording of Deputy Perchard's proposal for a COVID-19 Elimination Strategy. The proposed changes would mean a focus on reduction of cases through continuing "control and suppression in a safe and sustainable way" which would "ultimately eliminate infectious diseases" using Deputy Perchard's initial proposed measures. 

READ THE PROPOSAL HERE

Senator Sarah Ferguson advised that people should use their judgment to evaluate risks of COVID-19. Deputy Trevor Pointon spoke in support of Chief Minister, John Le Fondré 's amendment to Deputy Jess Perchard's proposal. Richard Buchanan, the Constable of St Ouen said the Island's approach is based on sound medical advice and added the current strategy has the support of the population and argued that New Zealand, which was referenced in the Deputy's proposal, has notably different dynamics from Jersey. 

Deputy Gardiner spoke of her support for Deputy Jess Perchard's proposal. 

The Constable of St Lawrence, Deirdre Mezbourian said she has every faith that the actions taken at any moment are based on the best advice and knowledge available, she added "If we support Jess Perchard's proposal we would be taking a giant step backwards and urged members to support the amendment. 

The Constable of St Martin, Karen Stone added that she will vote for the amendment and said "we should all put lives before livelihoods," but added that no jurisdiction in the world has a guidebook that could show the way out of COVID-19.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf said that the aim of the approach so far has been to limit the spread of the virus and that it had been a success to date. The Minister added that the Island will be able to control and suppress the virus thanks to increased testing and that health facilities can cope with new cases that could arise as lockdown is eased. 

Deputy John Young stated he supports the amendment and reminded Members that testing must be a number one priority, he suggested in order to see real progress, the testing programme needs to be elevated. The Deputy also stated the need for a strategy for vulnerable people with children who may be conflicted about the idea of sending their children back to school. 

Senator Tracey Vallois followed by agreeing with Deputy Young and reiterates the impacts and concerns of re-opening schools. The Senator talked about the need for the public to understand instruction around 'shielding' and protection for the older population. 

Deputy Rob Ward spoke and said he would support the amendment if we continue to enact measures that use sound advice. Deputy Ward then agreed with Senator Vallois surrounding the need for clarification and certainty in the route to recovery. 

The Deputy of St Martin, Steve Luce asked the Chief Minister to clarify his current policy in his responses, as he has not seen a clear written plan of what route is being pursued. He added he won't be supporting The Chief Minister's amendment. Deputy Louise Doublet also urged members to reject the Chief Minister's proposed amendment so that Deputy Perchard's proposal can be debated in full and see if there is a way to achieve elimination. 

Senator Steve Pallet then added that he is pleased there is a line referencing communication strategy in the amendment as he believes that, to date, there has been a lack of clear communication, which has put Islander's mental health at risk. Deputy Kirsten Morel added his voice to this topic and stated that he is supporting the proposal as amended as it did not remove the areas addressing a need for better communication. The Deputy said he believes there is a lack of trust from Islanders regarding the strategy being followed because of unclear messaging and that Members have not received the clear communication they have needed.

Deputy Mike Higgins then added that he will be supporting the amendment but acknowledged that elimination is something he thinks many people desire but is unsure that is attainable due to the nature of COVID-19.

The Chief Minister's proposal to amendment Deputy Perchard's COVID-19 Elimination Strategy has been ADOPTED

36 FOR vs 6 AGAINST 

Covid-19 Elimination Strategy amendment

Deputy Kirsten Morel then proposed to amend Deputy Jess Perchard's COVID-19 Elimination Strategy. Deputy Morel's further amendment aimed to provide an additional option for the inclusion of a testing regime at the ports of entry for visitors to Jersey and returning Islanders. 

READ THE PROPOSAL HERE

Deputy Gregory Guida presented concerns regarding the specific type of testing named in the amendment due to the lengthy process while Deputies Jess Perchard and John Young spoke in support of this amendment, noting the importance of regime testing. 

Deputy Morel's proposal to amend the new COVID-19 Elimination Strategy with new testing regimes was ADOPTED

42 FOR VS 1 AGAINST

COVID-19 ELIMINATION STRATEGY (P.61/2020): THIRD AMENDMENT 

Deputy Kevin Pamplin then proposed an amendment to the COVID-19 Elimination strategy. The proposed amendment from Deputy Pamplin requests that specific provisions for Mental Health concerns be addressed as part of the Elimination Strategy.

READ THE PROPOSAL HERE

Senator Steve Pallet expressed his concerns on this proposal, stating that the amendment was unnecessary as the work outlined would be done regardless. 

The Chief Minister, John Le Fondré and Deputies Kirsten Morel, Jess Perchard and Montfort Tadier all expressed their support for this amendment, noting the importance of Mental Health; especially during this unprecedented time. 

Senator Tracey Vallois spoke of how the Island's mental health services have been supporting various children with over-the-phone check-ups. Deputy Geoff Southern added his full support to this amendment, commenting on the benefits counselling services have to people, adding that his constituents feel ‘abandoned’ by the lack of support they have been receiving since lockdown.

Constable Sadie Rennard stated she needed assurance, which Deputy Pamplin gave, that the elderly people be considered in this amendment before deciding on her vote. Deputy John Young also expressed his support, highlighting the importance for support services for all; including, children, young people and the elderly. He urged for Senator Pallet to re-think his position, noting that Mental Health support is vital.

Deputy Kevin Pamplin's proposed amendment was ADOPTED

35 FOR vs 3 AGAINST

The States Assembly then debated Deputy Jess Perchard's proposal as amended

Senator Sarah Ferguson and Deputy Steve Luce expressed support for the proposition, whilst Deputy Lindsay Ash expressed some concerns.

Deputy John Young supported the amendment and stated that he believes the communication failures have not been helped by the structure that is required during decision making. He added that Scrutiny, States Members and the Council of Ministers should all work together. Deputy Inna Gardiner has said she would support the proposal and that she looks forward to a plan to bring needed stability and freedom to the Island.

The Health Minister, Richard Renouf thanked everyone for supporting each other in this public health emergency. He said that his department will work hard in the next two weeks to publish an updated strategy and additional updates going forward. He is urging members to support the Amended Elimination Proposal.

John Le Maistre, the Constable of Grouville said there are a number of questions that still remain around what the Island's current strategy is. He added that both he and the public are interested to hear what the new strategy is and urged members to support the proposal.

The proposal as amended was ADOPTED 

42 FOR vs 2 AGAINST




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