The Health Minister wants to extend the Government’s emergency powers for another six months so that it can “respond quickly” to a potential future covid wave and continue to enforce testing at the borders and isolation for infected people.
Ministers’ emergency covid powers are due to end on October 31 but Deputy Richard Renouf has asked States Members to agree for them to remain in place until 30 April 2022.
The legislation was first introduced in March 2020, and was due to be in place until 30 April 2021.
Then the Covid-19 (Amendments - extension and suspension) Regulations extended the end dates until 31 October to ensure the powers could still be used if required.
Pictured: Deputy Richard Renouf, the Health Minister, is seeking a six-month extension for the emergency powers.
While most of the restrictions are due to be lifted on Thursday, the Workplace Order, which requires contact details to be taken for track and trace purposes, as well masks in ports and public transport and the Screening, Assessment and Isolation Regulations, which provide the powers to require people to be tested at the border and to self-isolate if they have covid, will remain.
In the report accompanying his proposition, Deputy Renouf said there is “significant reason for optimism” in light of the success of the vaccination programme and the apparent reduction in the level of disease severity in fully vaccinated people.
However, he added it was considered important to keep the emergency powers “in case the situation deteriorates”, especially in light of “the potential
emergence of new variants and the unknown conditions of winter 2021-2022”.
Deputy Renouf said allowing the extension would give the Government the capacity to “respond quickly to any further wave as it occurs”, and allow it to legislate effectively ahead of future outbreaks, while limiting its access to powers that can interfere with the lives of citizens or bypass normal safeguards until it is clearly established that they are required again.
He is proposing to extend the regulations, some of which will remain suspended with a new expiry date. To “revive” any regulation which is suspended, the Health Minister will have to issue an Order following consultation with the Council of Ministers and only if it deemed necessary and proportionate following advice from the Medical Officer for Health.
The matter is scheduled for debate in the States Assembly on 5 October.
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