States return to Chamber

POLITICIANS are due to return to the States Chamber next week for the first time since lockdown.

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Although it is not possible for all 49 elected Members to be physically present at once due to Covid-19 restrictions, a new ‘mixed’ approach has been successfully trialled this week.

Deputy Russell Labey, ​chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee, said States Members would be divided into two alternating groups, with one group in the Chamber and the other participating through the Microsoft Teams platform.

‘We think we have found a way and there’s been a lot of very hard work on the technical side,’ he said. ‘Having two groups attending on alternate days is the fairest way to hold meetings without disadvantaging anyone.’

Public gatherings are currently limited to 40 people, and Deputy Labey said the new arrangement would enable the Assembly to stay within this limit, with around ten staff included in the total number.

All Members will be at least one metre apart, and the Assembly building has been subject to a thorough risk assessment, the St Helier Deputy added. There is no obligation for any Member to attend should they have concerns about health issues.

A final dress rehearsal will take place on Monday and, barring any major problems, the Assembly will convene officially at 9.30am on Tuesday.

‘It will not be back to normal but is the best we can do while strictly adhering to the advice we have been given,’ Deputy Labey added.

The Teams platform has been used for all sittings of the Assembly since 2 April, when Jersey’s parliament became the first in the Commonwealth to hold a virtual sitting.

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