Jersey's Chief Minister says new emergency powers passed by the States Assembly are 'vital' in helping protect the island during the coronavirus crisis.

Jersey's Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondre, outlined the new measures which he said would only be used when 'absolutely necessary' to protect islanders from the disease.

The States sitting, which was once again held at Fort Regent, was attended by 35 members, due to new measures instructing islanders over 65 years old to stay at home, meaning some could not attend.

The measures passed by the assembly are as follows:

  • Power to fast-track laws. The States Assembly will be able to pass and implement laws relating to Covid-19 without approval from the Privy Council and Royal Assent: The Chief Minister says this is 'critical' as it allows legal changes to be implemented as and when the pandemic develops.

  • Schools and day-care centres can now be required to close: The Minister for Education will be able to require closures to 'prevent the contamination and spread of Coronavirus' and ensure that other provisions are made available.

  • Requiring people to be screened for coronavirus: The Health Minister has been granted temporary powers, which allows for the use of 'appropriate enforcement' where necessary.

  • Enforcing social distancing: Police officers will be given the powers to enforce the principle of social distancing, using reasonable force, if members of the public do not comply.

I would like to reiterate that all these measures will only be used when absolutely necessary to protect islanders and ensure the smooth running of the island. I once again ask all islanders to follow local health advice at all times so that we can work together as an island, and as a community to tackle this pandemic and help flatten our curve.

Senator John Le Fondre, Chief Minister of Jersey