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Calls for scientific advisers' meeting minutes to be shared

Calls for scientific advisers' meeting minutes to be shared

Wednesday 08 July 2020

Calls for scientific advisers' meeting minutes to be shared


A politician is calling for the government to share the minutes of its scientific advisers' meetings and to start holding regular press conferences again in a bid to combat rumour and miscommunication in relation to covid-19.

Entitled 'Enhanced Covid-19 Exit Strategy Communication', the proposals from Deputy Kevin Pamplin will be debated next week.

In a report accompanying the plans, Deputy Pamplin explains that they aim to achieve greater transparency from government, noting how “rumours and leaks passed to Islanders and the media have caused distrust and anxiety at a time when we desperately need confidence and reassurance.”

Specifically, the St. Saviour representative is asking for:

  • Jersey’s Scientific, Technical Advisory Cell (STAC) to follow the example of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) by publishing its work, reports, minutes and recommendations on a dedicated gov.je page;
  • STAC meeting minutes, membership details, evidence, data and recommendations to regularly be provided to the relevant Scrutiny panels;
  • The only ministers or government officials authorised to attend STAC meetings to be those with responsibility for scientific, health or medical matters to “make clear to the public and to all States Members that STAC advice is free from political interference or influence from ministers or officials";
  • The results of the ‘Test, Track and Trace’ scheme to be published and updated weekly on a dedicated gov.je page;
  • And a weekly press conference to be held by the Chief Minister and other officials to update islanders on the Covid-19 Strategy and Safer Travel Policy.

The proposal suggests that the press conferences "could also cover covid-19 hospital data, support for school children in the summer months, and regular updates about the continuation of the Exit Strategy."

Citing how the government “cannot delay when so much is on the line in terms of the mental and physical health of Islanders… who all need reassurance and up-front transparency for the challenging months ahead”, Deputy Pamplin added that “we cannot afford a summer of inaction".

It comes after a number of backbenchers blasted the government over its communications strategy throughout lockdown, including the Scrutiny Liaison Committee, which wrote to the Chief Minister on the matter.

Responding to Deputy Pamplin's plans on Twitter, Deputy Kirsten Morel, who has himself been critical of the government's communications, joked: "Sharing information? Transparency? Regular reporting? What kind of world do you think we live in Kev?!!!"

 Deputy Pamplin's plans are scheduled for debate on 14 July.

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