Summary of what the Panel has heard up to April 2022
Since its inception in March, the Jersey Independent Covid-19 Review panel, has been meeting with a range of islanders: individuals, businesses, trade bodies, charities, and other interest groups. Following two on-island visits, plus additional virtual meetings the panel has met with a total of 63 individuals and groups up to the 20th April. We have also been considering over 50 written submissions received through our website: covidreview.je, or by post.
We have sought to digest a large quantity of background material from both government and other sources.
We have collected a lot of impressions, lived experience and a range of important opinion, and in the interests of transparency the panel is publishing a brief distillation of what we have heard so far.
We are using this to inform our discussions with Government staff and elected politicians before we write our report.
Sir Derek Myers, Chair, Independent Covid-19 Review panel
WHAT WE HAVE HEARD SO FAR, FROM THOSE LIVING AND WORKING IN JERSEY
- Many of the accounts we have heard concentrate on the early stages of the pandemic: March-June 2020. Islanders, both residents and business owners were watching TV coverage from Europe, particularly those early pictures of health service chaos in Italy and deciding it was only a matter of time before Jersey faced something similar.
- It is evident to us that many people looked upwards to the Government for reassurance, information, and practical help. They had high expectations.
- We have heard that the Island is characterised by close informal relationships between settled residents and those elected to office. Everybody likes this and expects to be able to lobby and make their views known.
- We have heard that politicians were responsive to many such representations and the system of co-funding and loan guarantees is reported to have been developed quickly and creatively.
- Some parties however were left feeling unheard. Faced with uncertainty and fear, this frustration turned to exasperation, if not anger.
- We have heard many examples of how businesses, trade bodies, and business sectors, like pharmacies and GPs worked hard to support each other and change their business models.
- We have been impressed by many examples of how charities worked together as never before and used a wider range of volunteers than ever before.
- We have come to appreciate the important local work done at parish level both through parish support teams and the Honorary Police.
- We can already see that teams of staff within the Government worked long hours, trying to plan a way through unprecedented challenges.
- Nearly all the people we have heard from found things to approve of and often praise, in the Government’s response.
- However, the pace, predictability, cogency and credibility of some of the Government communications in the first three months has been criticised by many we have heard from to date.
- We can already see that with some adjustments, the Island’s core services, including urgent healthcare, care homes, inward logistics including essential food deliveries, policing, prison services, 5G network and essential retail did not fail and were never overwhelmed.
- Our contributors have praised schools whilst some working parents found any school restrictions difficult and wished that more input had been available for those charged with home schooling
- For some a comparison with say, Guernsey is useful; for others Jersey’s willingness and ability to decide its own rules has been more important.
- We have heard that for some, the rules governing exceptions to the Stay at Home order and other later rules around social distancing were confusing with changes catching out those charged with implementation. Others were more tolerant of the aspiration to be flexible and humane.