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CCA chairman answers national radio questions

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EDUCATION, tourism and Guernsey’s economy were a few of the issues covered by Civil Contingencies Authority chairman Gavin St Pier on Radio 4’s Any Questions? on Friday evening.

At lunchtime on Friday, Civil Contingencies Authority chairman Deputy Gavin St Pier was answering questions for a local audience. In the evening, he was a guest on Radio 4’s Any Questions? hosted by Chris Mason. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28298056)

He appeared on the long-running show along with Mary Bousted, from the National Education Union, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Jim McMahon and Baroness Nicky Morgan.

Deputy St Pier said he could understand the challenge the UK faces with the introduction of 14 days of self-isolation for travellers. But he said it had been the right thing for Guernsey.

‘It was absolutely critical to stopping the importation of cases,’ he said.

He said it was important to consider why a government wanted to discourage travel.

‘For us it’s about breaking the cycle of infection,’ he said.

‘We have, obviously, to find a way to restart transportation because, of course, our visitor economy is very important to us.’

He said the island was continuing to ramp up its testing regime, so that it was ready to tackle any new cases, if they arose.

Guernsey is set to move to phase four of the exit from lockdown next week and unrestricted off-island travel is part of phase six.

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Deputy St Pier said no timeline had been put on this as it would depend on what was happening on and off the island.

When it came to damage to the tourism sector, he said most of that had already happened and the best way to restart it would be to tackle the illness.

There has been a lot of controversy around the UK’s plans to start reopening schools partially next week, with some saying it is not feasible or safe. States schools are set to reopen fully in two weeks.

Deputy St Pier said getting education restarted was important, especially for vulnerable children.

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In practice, he talked about how when schools reopened, they would be focused on delivering core education, so peripheries like assembly and extra curricular activities would be dropped for now, and there would be social distancing.

There was also a question about what students applying to university should do, as universities moved to online lectures, but still ask for full fees.

Deputy St Pier said one of his daughters was due to go to university this autumn. When it came to online learning, he said it was hard work and it was not perfect.

But no one knows how long the Covid-19 situation will continue.

‘All of us are going to have to learn to cope and manage with it and develop new methods and I think that will be exactly the same for the higher education sector,’ he said.

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