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‘Repressive quarantine’ faces legal challenge

News | Published:

A LOCAL businessman is launching legal action against the Civil Contingencies Authority and its imposition of Covid-19 border restrictions, on the grounds that they violate human rights, lead to false imprisonment, and are disproportionate and authoritarian.

Deputy Gavin St Pier, Deputy Heidi Soulsby and Dr Nicola Brink at this week's media briefing.(Picture by Peter Frankland, 28671993)

Tim Chesney has instructed his lawyers to serve papers on the States of Guernsey and Dr Nicola Brink, the medical officer of health, and the case is due to be lodged either today or tomorrow.

At the heart of Mr Chesney’s legal attack is the belief that the island must learn to live with the virus because a vaccine could be years away.

He wants a ‘pragmatic and balanced risk-assessed approach’ with testing on arrival at the borders to prevent an economic catastrophe.

‘A considerable amount of this damage has arisen as a direct result of the isolationist “Fortress Guernsey” policies adopted by the CCA,’ he said.

‘There is an unwillingness by the CCA to accept the global view that Covid-19 is an endemic circulatory virus that we must all learn to live with and manage.

‘By contrast Jersey has accepted that reality, and they are forging ahead and leaving Guernsey in their slipstream.

‘So much needless damage has been caused to the Guernsey economy – particularly in certain sectors such as hospitality – livelihoods have been upended, and people’s freedoms have been infringed.

‘Furthermore, the repressive quarantine regulations imposed by the CCA continue to deprive thousands of islanders with family off-island of their right to a family life.’

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The island is currently using 14-day and seven-day quarantine periods for most travellers, to stave off the risk of coronavirus overwhelming the health service.

The next phase of easing the restrictions will include testing on arrival and much shorter quarantine periods for some, but no date has been given yet for when this could start.

Adding to the picture has been the sudden jump in cases in England, and the CCA is expected to confirm today that some regions of England will fall under the 14-day quarantine rule from next week.

Mr Chesney has compared the CCA to an oppressive and unaccountable authoritarian regime, using intimidatory techniques, and he said the legal challenge would shine a bright light on how the pandemic was being handled.

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In response, Deputies Gavin St Pier and Heidi Soulsby, from the CCA, issued a statement standing by their decisions.

‘While we, of course, recognise that the travel restrictions in place have been challenging for many islanders, at all times the CCA has had the community’s health and wellbeing at the forefront of decisions.

‘All CCA regulations are by law also time limited and subject to debate and approval by the States.’

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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