Andrew Taylor acknowledged that Covid was in the community, but he was not persuaded that the current approach was proportionate to the risk.
‘I’m just not really convinced that there’s really an emergency any more. Looking at the numbers that are published by the States, I just don’t see it,’ he said.
‘I don’t think it’s necessary that we still need to be under emergency legislation affecting in-comers and having people isolate when it would appear that the risk to life is very very low.
‘We haven’t seen data to suggest that it [the Omicron variant] is worse, so to approach everything with a worst-case scenario hat on feels a bit over the top. We did it with the Delta variant, we had extra concerns and they very much amounted to nothing and quite likely it will be the same with Omicron.’
The deputy is one of the leading critics of the Civil Contingencies Authority when Covid issues are discussed in the States.
‘I don’t really feel like questions ever get answered,’ he said. ‘If you raise a point in debate around the emergency legislation it seems to be met with remarks like “do you know what’s going on in the world, have you not seen the news?” while avoiding answering the question.
‘So I suppose to see a little bit more scrutiny, and a bit more support on the scrutiny from other members, would go a long way.’
The CCA, which is the body which has led the island’s pandemic response, has been criticised by a handful of politicians.
Some, like Deputy Taylor think the restrictions go too far, while a few think the regulations need to be much stricter with the borders closed.
In response to the criticism, a review was carried out, and it found that States committees and the medical professionals generally endorsed the CCA.
Proposals have now been published to set up a States debate on the Covid response, which would allow the CCA to continue to use the emergency regulations in the months to come, but further in the future the Medical Officer of Health could be given permanent powers.
It is also recommended that Health & Social Care should extend these powers to other notifiable diseases.
Deputy Taylor said he would be voting against the idea.
‘It seems to be dressed up as no extra power being given to the Medical Officer of Health, but at the same time we’re increasing the amount of power so she can do more, and no one has really answered which one it is.
‘At least with the status quo, although I disagree with most of the decisions being made, I get a chance to challenge them in the States, theoretically every month.
‘Whereas with this, it’s then there for the rest of time, and the only way to really challenge it would be through a complex requete or something else requiring a lot more input.
‘I could see why the suggestion is to maintain the status quo, but I also disagree with that.’
The policy letter will be debated by the States at the January meeting, and senior politicians have said that it will be an ideal opportunity for a proper airing of views on Covid management.