‘No, I wouldn’t change any part of our Covid response’

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The Senator, who is the subject of the JEP’s Saturday Interview, said that the time for analysing the government’s response to the crisis would come, but for now ‘we are still trying to look forward’.

And he thanked Islanders for adhering to the guidelines and said that the ‘end of the journey’ was now in sight.

The Chief Minister has faced criticism almost from the outset of the pandemic, with accusations of failing to act swiftly enough and pursuing the wrong strategy.

Ministers implemented a policy of containing the virus but infection levels have fluctuated – dropping away in the late spring and summer but surging to over 1,000 in December.

Guernsey, which has had harder border controls and pursued a strategy of elimination, has consistently seen active case numbers of below ten.

Senator Le Fondré defended his approach and said that each decision had been taken following consultation with ministerial colleagues, medical professions and political advisers.

‘It has been a collaboration,’ he said. ‘It is about leading a team with disparate views and leading them through discussions and, generally, getting to a consensus.

‘There are times where we have to agree to disagree. Some people may regard that approach as a weakness – I don’t.’

He added that there was ‘no rule book’ and that politicians across the world had had to make decisions ‘appropriate for the jurisdiction’.

When asked whether, knowing what he knows now, he would have done anything differently, Senator Le Fondré said: ‘At this stage – no. We are still trying to look forward.’

It is understood that a backbench politician is due to lodge a proposition calling for the Island to implement an elimination strategy.

Senator Le Fondré has reiterated his view that the path chosen out of the pandemic has been the correct one, and that changing tack now – at a ‘multi-million-pound cost’ – would not benefit the Island.

He pointed to the vaccination roll-out, which, at current rates, could see as many as 50,000 Islanders receiving their first dose by the end of March.

‘We have done well,’ he said. ‘We can see the end of the journey but we are not there yet. We must keep complying with the basic measures and keep the virus as suppressed as we can.

‘We are in a good place in terms of our set-up for vaccination – every week an extra 7,000 people are vaccinated. We are going to slowly come out [of restrictions] to make sure we do keep control.

‘There is a piece of work being done for when we get to those milestones, those good places, which could begin to happen by the middle of February, what can we change then to get us back to closer to normal.’

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