Normal service was resumed in Jersey's States Assembly this morning - but only for a little over an hour. The Island's politicians started off the new term with an 'old-style' face-to-face meeting - but quickly agreed to follow their own advice to local employers, and be a bit more flexible instead.
40 members supported the Environment Minister, Deputy John Young's, proposition to continue using Teams for States meetings, as has been the case since March 2020.
The States Assembly made history last year as the first parliament in the Commonwealth to hold a meeting and pass laws 'virtually.'
The States Assembly have voted to approve Deputy John Young's proposition (P.87/2021) to allow States Members to join today's meeting remotely, via Teams, if preferred. There will be a 45 minute suspension of proceedings until 11:30am. Teams links will be shared shortly. pic.twitter.com/XubvhX2Cid— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) September 14, 2021
Today was due to mark a return to normality with all members attending in person, but this was only short-lived following Deputy Young’s proposition.
Published just this morning, the proposal noted that the States Chamber does not comply with public health guidance as it doesn’t allow members to maintain physical distancing and its ventilation is inadequate.
The report accompanying his proposals also noted that many members are concerned that their health may be compromised by being required to attend the States in person.
“While some Members may feel relaxed about the potential risks to their health, others do not,” Deputy Young wrote.
Pictured: Deputy John Young, the Environment Minister.
The Environment Minister said the arrangement would also benefit members who have tested positive for covid but feel fine to carry out their work, as well as direct contacts awaiting the result of a PCR test.
Several members attended today’s meeting wearing masks while many supported the proposition citing the potential underlying health conditions their colleagues might have.
The Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, and the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, both voiced support for the proposition, with the former noting that Government’s guidance to employers is to support flexible working.
As a result of Deputy Young’s proposition, members will be able to choose whether they want to attend the meeting in person or virtually, until a vote takes place on the rules governing hybrid meetings.
Deputy Young said he wished the current wording to be relaxed so that hybrid or remote sittings can continue until the pandemic is over, “without asking any Member to compromise their health."
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When our States members are allowing nightclubs to open where social distancing doesn't exist it seems a bit strange that some of them can't attend a meeting and some feel the need to wear masks is this mixed messages or what?
The one good thing that has come from this pandemic is the inclusivity that remote working offers, opening options for the less able.