Covid-19 lockdown powers to be extended?

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The possible move forms part of proposals which could lead to 24 emergency orders and regulations which were introduced as part of the government’s response to Covid-19 being individually repealed, suspended or extended.

Much of the legislation is due to expire on 30 September.

Health Minister Richard Renouf said that some protections need to remain at the disposal of the government should they be needed to protect Islanders.

As a result, some regulations, including those which could lead to the Island being locked down again, could to be extended until 20 April next year, if the States agree.

And others, such as those which allow the Education Minister to close schools, could be suspended. They could only be brought back into force if a ‘revival order’ is made and the States Assembly votes in favour of doing so.

These revival powers could remain in force until April 2021.

And, under the terms of the proposals, other regulations and orders could be repealed. Although these would have expired anyway, it was deemed more democratic to put the legislation before the States Assembly.

This measure also aims to ensure that expired legislation is removed from the statute book to avoid confusion.

One regulation which could be repealed prevents landlords from implementing rent increases and stops evictions from happening. An explanatory note accompanying the proposition, says: ‘…the minister re-instating the provision [order or regulation] must be satisfied that it is necessary and proportionate to do so, having regard to the foreseeable risk of the spread of Covid-19 in Jersey.’

Meanwhile, in a separate proposition also lodged by the Health Minister, powers which allow the government to introduce laws more quickly than in normal circumstances could have their expiration date extended.

Draft laws must normally receive the approval of the UK’s Privy Council and be approved by the Royal Court – a process which can take several weeks or months.

However, under the Covid-19 Enabling Provisions mechanism, due to expire on 31 December, the States Assembly can bypass this process with laws approved by the States Assembly coming into force almost immediately.

The Health Minister now wishes to extend these powers until 31 July 2021.

Both propositions are due to be debated by the States Assembly on 9 September.

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