The concert hall has been chosen as the venue because Covid-19 cases are rising, and it is much larger and better ventilated than the usual Royal Court Chamber.
And if States members approve a policy letter marked ‘urgent’, the meeting will become a ‘hybrid’ with the majority of deputies at St James, and the rest at home connecting through Microsoft Teams.
At least five deputies are known to be working from home because they have Covid-19, or have been
advised to limit their contacts.
The change of format request came from the top committee, Policy & Resources, which set out its reasoning in a letter to the States’ Assembly & Constitution Committee.
‘Vaccinations are largely preventing people from being seriously ill with Covid, although anyone with the virus is required to isolate for a period.
‘This means that States members may be feeling well enough to take part in debate but are required to remain at home.
‘It seems sensible, at a time when many aspects of business across both the public and private sectors are being undertaken either remotely or on a “hybrid” basis, that this facility should be extended
to our elected representatives.'
P&R does not want today’s hybrid meeting to be a one-off, because it has suggested that they ‘can and should be part of a new normal going forward’.
However, that assertion is a bridge too far for Sacc, which makes it very clear in its own policy letter that today’s meeting should not set a precedent.
It refers to the lack of consultation, the democratic implications, and the effect on staff.
‘The proposal to permanently enable “hybrid” meetings of the States would fundamentally change the dynamics and operation of the States of Deliberation,' the committee said in its report to be debated this morning.
‘In other jurisdictions where hybrid meetings have operated during the pandemic, there has been criticism of the negative impact it has had on the quality of debate and scrutiny.
‘The committee’s view is that it would be inappropriate to consider such a proposal without proper thought or preparation, and to do so would be contrary to the six core principles of good governance that
have been adopted by the States.’