Catriona McAllister said she was ‘just as perplexed as everyone’ over why adult sport could not resume until at least 8 March, and added that Jersey Sport was made aware of the decision less than 24 hours prior to Friday’s announcement, leaving them no time to challenge the decision.
Last week Government of Jersey officials announced that outdoor team sport for under-18s could resume from tomorrow, but outdoor adult sport would remain off-limits for a further 19 days.
Despite a ‘constant dialogue’ between Jersey Sport and Public Health officers throughout the coronavirus pandemic, McAllister said they were surprised and disappointed with the decision to delay the restart of adult sport.
‘We cannot see why hospitality venues can open on 22 February and yet adults cannot play outdoor sport until March,’ she said. ‘I understand that cafés and restaurants are considered a controlled environment, but sport is equally as controlled and has been deemed low risk.
‘People who need social interaction can now go to the pub with their mates but cannot train with their whole sports team or play a competitive fixture.’
McAllister said that Jersey Sport had now written to the government to ask why the decision was made to separate over-18 and under-18 sport.
‘This has been really difficult to digest, especially as we are still unaware of the evidence the decision is based on,’ she added. ‘I really don’t know where this has come from and without justification we are all as confused as each other.’
Jersey’s former sports minister, Senator Steve Pallett, said the decision made by the government was ‘unfair’ and sent out a ‘terrible message’ from a public-health point of view.
‘There is nothing wrong with hospitality venues opening but there is no balance from the government,’ said Pallett. ‘It seems like sport is at the end of their priority list.
‘You have to question who is the government consulting and where has this decision come from, because clearly they have not consulted anyone within sport.
‘Sport is key to Islanders’ physical and mental well-being – which is essential during the current Covid-19 climate. We need to be fit, active and in good health to keep us in the best shape possible should we unfortunately catch Covid.’
Senator Pallett said the decision to stagger the start for sport had not been based on any concrete evidence and questioned whether enough was being done to represent sport at government level.
‘At a time like this, those with an interest in sport need to stand up and be counted,’ he said. ‘In this instance the government are not listening and I don’t think they understand the way sport works.’
Meanwhile, Hugh Raymond, who now holds responsibility for sport in Jersey, said he had had no input.
‘The decision [to split under- and over-18s] was made by STAC and the Competent Authority Ministers group,’ he explained. ‘I would like to be involved in these conversations and I am seeking clarification into the government’s decision.
‘I am being told, as opposed to being involved. I was not consulted on the decision made by STAC and the competent ministers group.’
He added: ‘We need consistency and I want to see a level playing field for sport with other areas like hospitality. It makes everything so difficult when people in sport are not being consulted on decisions to do with us.’