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Minutes Reveal Call For Masks 'From October'

Face masks were made compulsory in Jersey more than two months after scientific experts said they should be.

That has emerged from the minutes of a STAC meeting on 2 September, which have only just been published.

'The Cell agreed that it wished for people to wear face coverings in public enclosed spaces.'

That is the wording of STAC minutes of a meeting held three months before it became law.

The group of scientific experts said 'Jersey should adopt the same stance as the UK with effect from October' - although they acknowledged law drafting would take time, and 'it was important not to mandate the wearing (of masks) too early'.

Dr Ivan Muscat made a public plea on 30 September for islanders to wear masks, but a government campaign and new public guidance on their use didn't begin until 26th October.

The masks law  - now enforceable with a £1,000 fine  - came into force on 1st December.

The full text regarding face coverings, taken from the STAC minutes of 2 September 2020:

"A8. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (‘the Cell’), with reference to Minute No. A4 of its meeting of 20th July 2020, heard from the Independent Advisor - Epidemiology and Public Health in respect to the use of face coverings. He indicated that the scientific evidence for the use thereof was somewhat questionable, but the lack of evidence did not mean that they would not be effective. Consequently, he proposed that Jersey should adopt the same stance as the United Kingdom and require people entering shops and those working in hospitality to wear them with effect from October 2020. One of the primary benefits of requiring them to be worn was as a reminder to the public that the COVID-19 virus continued to pose a risk. The Independent Advisor - Epidemiology and Public Health mooted that the requirement to wear face coverings should be included in legislation, which would take some time to draft. The Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, concurred. He reminded the Cell that wearing of face coverings had been strongly recommended during the first wave of COVID-19, but as the number of positive cases of the virus had diminished, less emphasis had been placed thereon. It was important not to mandate the wearing too early, but to find an appropriate point at which to emphasise that they should be worn.
The Cell agreed that it wished for people to wear face coverings in public enclosed spaces and decided to make a formal recommendation to this effect. On a related note, the Cell was aware that, unlike other jurisdictions, there was currently no vires for Police Officers to impose fixed penalty notices for failure to comply with this type of requirement."

Minutes from eight meetings have been published this week covering the period 27 July - 7 September.

It follows months of delays and a States Assembly vote in July demanding that the minutes being made publicly available online.

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