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Minutes of Covid science meetings to be published

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MINUTES of scientific meetings that have aided government decisions on Covid-19 will be published online after States Members accepted proposals to enhance the government’s communication strategy.

Deputy Kevin Pamplin Picture: ROB CURRIE. (28835763)

A proposition brought by Deputy Kevin Pamplin, which called for added transparency to the ongoing Covid-19 work, was unanimously adopted yesterday.

A dedicated page will now be created on gov.je to publish minutes and evidence considered by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell, which advises the government on its coronavirus strategy. A weekly press conference, briefing or some form of engagement will also be held by the Chief Minister, other ministers, government officials or technical experts from next month.

Deputy Pamplin paid tribute to the government’s communication team for their work during the pandemic, but insisted it was time for an enhanced and more transparent strategy.

He said: ‘Being transparent, clear and consistent is fundamental and it has never been more important as we continue to navigate through the Covid-19 crisis.

‘Communication has changed and as the pandemic has shown you have to run fast or miscommunication will out run you with leaks and rumours on social media, and it is a problem we have to get to grips with as it does not help an anxious Island.

‘We need an enhanced communication strategy.’

The proposition also called for membership of STAC and the appointments process to be published, and for only ministers and officials with responsibility for scientific and health matters to attend the meetings.

The test, track and trace results will also be published online.

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Deputy Scott Wickenden questioned why the Deputy had brought a proposition forward, indicating that he could have gone to the relevant ministers to make these things happen, rather than taking up the Assembly’s time.

However, Deputy Morel insisted the information had been asked for, for a number of months, and that was why the proposition had been brought forward.

Health Minister Richard Renouf responded, saying that the government would support the proposition, with a few minor changes. He said that no government minister attended STAC meetings, adding that it was not a political group and if ministers tried to make it political, STAC would ‘slam us down and ensure it was independent’.

He said: ‘Ministers appreciate there is an appetite for improvements in communications and propositions like this do help us focus minds, and I am pleased we have been able to work out a full agreement.’

Senator Kristina Moore welcomed the proposition but said it was disappointing that a backbencher had to bring a proposition forward before anything was done.

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
Journalist

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