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LETTER: "If not now, then when?"

LETTER:

Tuesday 27 July 2021

LETTER: "If not now, then when?"


The CCA's "rudderless" border policy will leave a legacy of a crippled, debt-ridden economy to the generations to come, writes local businessman Tim Chesney.

"There seemed to be some light flickering at the end of a very long and dark tunnel as people emerged in Guernsey, blinking into the sunlight on 1 July.

They dared to believe that there would be something that resembled freedom after seventeen long, isolated months locked away on a very small island. There was hope that the CCA would at long last begin to act proportionately and would accept that the virus is endemic and we must live with it.

There had been months of propaganda of course and it terrified many people, but at least the ship would soon be following a course back to something approaching the land of normality. But a spike in cases the UK and Jersey - as always predicted and in what are very well protected populations by vaccines and immunity from past infection as evidenced by such statistically low hospitalisation or death rates in those places - and the CCA presses the panic button.

Dr Brink tells us that we are now at the most dangerous point in the crisis, and then she also tells us that 'the jabs are protecting people from hospitalisation and death'. I think that people will be scratching their heads in bemusement at this contradiction, but it is instructive of the muddle they are now in. 

The CCA has now effectively closed the borders by reneging on travel arrangements within the CTA by requiring that all fully vaccinated travellers to Guernsey must have a test within 48 hours of travel, and at considerable cost and inconvenience, and if positive they are forbidden to travel to the island. In practical terms this means that the doors have been slammed shut again and visitors are not welcome.

If the wrist bands put on at arrival in Guernsey reminiscent of something out of WW2, the often unfriendly barked orders from hazmat suited operatives in the 'welcome team', and the unpleasant experience of actually arriving on the island and being read the riot act isn't enough to deter visitors, this certainly will do the trick. Is this the CCA's objective? 

Those wishing to visit loved ones off island, families on limited budgets, those with time restrictions for holidays and jobs to come back to, or the younger generations, will in many cases simply not be able to take the risk or carry the financial burden and many still face prohibitive quarantine. Their summer plans and their dreams of that family reunion or a well deserved holiday off island after so long, have been shattered. It is a complete shambles. One feels that this is all being drawn up on the hoof by a rudderless and incompetent CCA, with no consideration being given to proportionality, little attention paid to practicalities, and with no regard to the continuing collateral damage being caused to the economy, or to the mental health of what are now in effect inmates in HMP Guernsey. They didn't even permit questions from the public when they made these announcements which will wreck the summer for so many people. It all smacks of overreach and arrogance. 

England and Jersey are allowing the fully vaccinated to travel back from about 140 amber listed countries and to not have to undergo quarantine on arrival. This is reasonable, pragmatic and proportionate. By contrast anyone arriving in Guernsey (from effectively what is an amber listed country) is locked up - which is yet further evidence of the lunatic risk aversion that permeates the CCA thinking.

Meanwhile the rest of Europe has opened up to holidaymakers with its green certification scheme which lifts all quarantine for jabbed or Covid-tested visitors.

Last week Dr Bridgman, the former Medical Officer of Health took Dr Brink to court. He may have lost the case, but I believe that many people will agree that he won the moral argument, and a great deal of respect and admiration in the process. He has perhaps made people on the island realise that now it is time for a change in direction and leadership. He eloquently exposed what so many of us already know, which is that much of the CCA's decision making is arbitrary and it lacks proportionality. There has been scant regard paid to Human Rights. 

This is even more apparent now when we know that the vast majority of those age groups that comprise 99% of the risk of death or serious illness from the virus are fully vaccinated, and those who haven't come forward to be vaccinated have probably exercised their rights not to have the vaccine for any number of reasons that should be respected. We also know that while the vaccines offer very high protection against hospitalisations and deaths it is not a panacea; there will always be some who will succumb to it - as happens with flu even after a vaccination.

We know that fully vaccinated people can still catch the virus, and this is now a fact of life and we must live with it, particularly because the overwhelming majority (almost 100% in fact) of those who are fully vaccinated will at the worst suffer a mild illness, or may be asymptomatic - so it is just another illness, to add to the multitude of illnesses that are circulating and which afflict the human race. It is now a casedemic. To put it into some risk context - which the CCA never do - last week Covid 19 was 18th on the list of causes of death in the UK. 

The virus will be circulating for ever, there will always be variants, it cannot be eradicated, and we must now get on with our lives and live with this virus in the way that we live with all other risks. If we don't do this now then when will we ever do it, or are we now fixed into some sort of nightmare doom loop living on a small rock under the control of a health dictatorship?

There is no longer anything that could be labelled an emergency on the island and there hasn't been for months, but the CCA retain near absolute powers, and in fact their powers have been beefed up still more in recent days with the Emergency Powers (No 8) Regulations. It runs to 77 pages and it has all the hallmarks of North Korea or China writ large. Among other powers it has now been granted, the MOH can compel i.e. make compulsory, that a person provides samples or blood for testing and Police officers can use 'all reasonable force' to detain a person.

Why are our Deputies so meek and why are none of them shouting from the rooftops about this and other issues of great concern, challenging and scrutinising what the CCA is doing to the island, and demanding that control be handed back to the democratically elected representatives? Please read the revised Regulations and remember John Steinbeck's wise counsel: 'Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts. Perhaps the fear of loss of power'.

There is now an existential threat to Guernsey, but it is not from the virus, it is from the CCA's response to the virus. It comes from the accelerating damage to what is an already shattered economy and the toll it is exacting on society, as is exemplified by the well reported and very alarming increase in mental health problems, including in children, from being locked away on a very small island for such a long time.

It has left many people feeling helpless, and I believe that this feeling of despair is exacerbated by the near total absence of any transparency from the CCA and the threats and ad Hominem attacks that rain down from on high on those who have the temerity to take issue in public with the madness that is being inflicted on the island. The final straw for some may be the realisation that the promised freedom was in fact a cruel mirage.

There are increasingly fraught debates in the States - often characterised by unseemly tit-for-tats between the current Chief Minister and his predecessor apparently vying for position - about how the gargantuan black hole in the finances is to be filled, and who is to blame for it, and all the while the unnecessary strangulation of our economy continues at pace with the island all but isolated, adding millions more to the debt pile already accumulated as each week and month goes by and as those on the CCA have their heads buried firmly in the sand, isolated from the rest of the world and, it seems, from reality as well.

Because of their actions the CCA will leave a legacy of a crippled, debt ridden economy to the next generations. This mountain of debt will be a yoke around the necks of future generations and it will remain like that for a long time after the members of the CCA and their advisors have no doubt eased into their comfortable retirements."

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