Senator Lyndon Farnham revealed yesterday that although discussions had taken place regarding possible ‘bubbling’ arrangement between the Bailiwicks, Guernsey’s government had ‘not been too enthusiastic’.
Guernsey recently announced that people arriving in the island from within the Common Travel Area of the UK, Ireland and Channel Islands who have been fully vaccinated would not be subject to the same testing requirements that have been in force for most of the past 12 months.
During an Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel hearing, the minister was asked whether Jersey could adopt a similar approach but he said that he doubted this would happen.
The hearing also considered other aspects of the economic impact of the pandemic and potential delays to the government’s fiscal stimulus programme.
‘A couple of weeks ago I would have said it was very likely that we may not have testing for those who’ve had both vaccinations, but now we are watching the situation very closely,’ he said, referring to concern about new variants.
Guernsey’s proposed removal of border controls was ‘heavily caveated’, Senator Farnham added, and he predicted that if variants led to Jersey being uncomfortable with stopping testing, Guernsey may well adopt a similar position.
An announcement about the future direction of Jersey’s border policy was likely in mid-June, he added.
The minister said he felt it unlikely that the timetable for easing internal restrictions in Jersey would be adversely affected as a result of cases of the Indian variant, but admitted that the situation was being monitored very closely.
Panel members asked about the current support scheme for businesses in Jersey and the possibility that it could be extended beyond the end of June; Senator Farnham said this would be considered if necessary, but that there were no plans for this at present.
Asked about the impact of the pandemic on businesses, the minister said businesses had been adversely affected by both Covid-19 and Brexit.
‘Industries, notably hospitality and agriculture, are wrestling with some tremendously difficult logistics, and there are a number of challenges even while we are in the final stages of the vaccination programme,’ he said.
Several panel members expressed concern that projects included in the post-Covid fiscal stimulus scheme might be delayed as a result of insufficient capacity within the construction industry.
Senator Farnham admitted that there was concern about resources in the construction sector, but he was hopeful that there would not be extensive delays.
‘The pandemic has gone on longer than we anticipated, and so if some of the projects go back into the first quarter of 2022 then I think they would still be beneficial,’ he said.