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Revealed: Ministers' bid to reopen hospitality in December

Revealed: Ministers' bid to reopen hospitality in December

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Revealed: Ministers' bid to reopen hospitality in December


Two Ministers made a request to the Health Minister to partially reopen Jersey's hospitality sector in mid-December, suggesting that premises should be allowed to trade without alcohol or only serve it with a "substantial meal", it has emerged.

In newly-released minutes of a STAC meeting on 14 December, it was stated that Senator Lyndon Farnham and Senator Ian Gorst had written to Deputy Richard Renouf, copying in the Chief Minister, STAC's Chair and Dr Ivan Muscat, to request a “limited” reopening of the sector.

The “undated letter” came following the announcement of the circuit breaker on 2 December, which saw all licensed premises close their doors from 4 December.

According to the STAC minutes, the two Ministers mooted the following options to choose from for when the decision was to be reviewed two weeks on: 

  • That pubs should remain closed, but all other licensed premises should be permitted to serve non-alcoholic drinks and food, if they wished. 
  • That all licensed premises should be permitted to open, with an ongoing prohibition on the sale of alcohol. 
  • That all licensed premises should be permitted to open, but that alcohol could only be sold in conjunction with a substantial meal. 

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Pictured: A 'circuit break' which saw all licensed hospitality premises closed was put in place on 4 December.

However, this was disputed by STAC’s Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, Dr Ivan Muscat MBE, who stated in response that “there was evidence to demonstrate that hospitality settings were significant in the transmission of the virus, and in his view, it was too early to reduce any mitigations.”

Instead, he suggested that hospitality should actually be restricted further, questioning whether it was appropriate for other public spaces to remain open, such as coffee shops, or whether this could lead to “significant overcrowding.”

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Pictured: Dr Ivan Muscat MBE, the Government's Deputy Medical Officer, said at the time "it was too early" to reduce any mitigations on hospitality.

The Independent Advisor for Epidemiology and Public Health weighed in by stating that "he would have preferred to have made it less attractive for people to attend hospitality venues, by allowing alcohol to be consumed, but only in conjunction with a substantial meal, whilst ensuring tables were appropriately spaced and the number of attendees limited.

"He did not believe this would have posed more of a risk than Islanders meeting within one another’s homes."

However, it was added he said he “did not advocate re-opening the sector at the current time, as it would convey the wrong message, but suggested that when the time arose it would need to be managed carefully and gradually, having given licensees advance notification, in order to avoid a spike in cases as people returned to those venues.”

On Christmas Eve, a further set of restrictions were placed on all other hospitality services too, with the exception of takeaway services. Earlier in the month, over 50 hospitality businesses wrote an open letter to the Council of Ministers requesting more support during the closures.

The minutes were among a collection of more than a dozen relating to meetings held in the final quarter of 2020, which were published today.

READ: The letter in full...

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Read more Express analysis from the latest collection of STAC minutes…

Government didn’t seek scientific advice on initial Christmas guidance

Scientific advisers raised concerns weeks ahead of care home covid spike

STAC: More tests does not mean more people being tested”

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Posted by Sheila Young on
Hope they are planning to reopen the hotels soon before they are all turned into flats. Todays news -Jersey's new Island Plan may have to consider tightening the restrictions around applications to develop hotels into flats, according to the Environment Minister.

It comes after three applications were registered to develop four St Helier hotels, last week alone. If approved the Stafford, Revere, Apollo and Mayfair Hotels would all give way to apartments.
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