Preliminary decision on this year’s air display to be taken today

A PRELIMINARY decision on whether to allow the Jersey International Air Display to go ahead was due to be taken by the government today.

Deputy Mike Higgins (28996547)
Deputy Mike Higgins (28996547)

If it receives permission it could be the only major public event to take place this year, with the likes of the Weekender music festival, Battle of Flowers, Jersey International Motoring Festival, Jersey Marathon and Barclays Jersey Boat Show all having been cancelled.

However, even if the government gives its go-ahead for the event – which is due to take place on the afternoon of 10 September – the display will still need to receive approval from the Bailiff’s Panel.

Guernsey’s Air Display is due to go ahead as planned earlier in the day on 10 September and will feature the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

But Deputy Mike Higgins, who organises the Jersey event, said that he would not complain if it was decided that holding the event would be unsafe.

‘There are other considerations than just having an air display and I certainly will not be kicking off if they say no because they are worried about the spread of coronavirus. I think it is evil and people are dying from it and I do not want to do anything that is going to increase the spread of it or cause anyone any grief,’ he said.

‘It [the display, if it does go ahead] is not going to be as big as we only have a quarter of the budget meaning, as maximum, we would only have a two-hour display.’

Deputy Higgins added that in his capacity as a States Member, he had fully supported the advice provided by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee – which advises the government on Covid policy – and he would be doing the same as an air display organiser.

‘If STAC or the Council of Ministers think it will be dangerous, it will not go ahead. With the area that we cover along St Aubin’s Bay, there should be enough space that people can safely watch it from but will people bunch up?

‘What it comes down to is humans and look how many people have been flouting the rules already. I wander through town and I think people are too close together, they are too blasé, people are dropping their guard.

‘So we need to consider whether people will adhere to physical distancing and who can police that? It is down to individuals.’

Normally, as part of the display, scores of people flock to Jersey Airport and West Park to get a closer look at aircraft featuring in the static displays.

However, Deputy Higgins said that neither of those static events would be taking place this year, to prevent spectators from breaching social distancing rules.

‘I am also not planning on having any displays at West Park or that sort of area where people normally tend to congregate,’ he said.

‘We are also trying to discourage crews from coming and staying in the Island and we have cancelled everything that we were due to hold indoors – the Government House reception, the volunteers’ thank you party, because again there is a greater risk of spread.

‘But we are prepared to put on an air display if we get permission.’

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