In my role as Deputy President (and therefore as convenor of tomorrow’s sitting) I have received strong representations from Members about the current risks of sitting in the Chamber, given that some Members’ families are affected by COVID-19, others are not double vaccinated or have other personal health concerns.
In addition to the specific concerns relating to certain Members there is general concern about the ventilation in the Chamber and the possibility of cross-infection of Members. The Clerk and I have taken the advice of Public Health, whose advice of ‘hands, face, space’ will be almost impossible to achieve.
Members will also appreciate that at present, a hybrid Tynwald is not a technical possibility given the numbers that seek to use it. This is a key consideration in limiting individual choice and preserving the ability of all Members to be able to participate in this crucial sitting.
Accordingly, I have decided that tomorrow’s sitting shall be convened virtually, subject of course to Tynwald’s agreement to suspend Standing Orders. I have consulted the other candidate for President of Tynwald in order to ensure that we agree on the strategy to be adopted. We are both in agreement about taking this measure. I can assure you that this is not a decision that has been made lightly.
I am aware that we will all be aware of the public perception of this issue, and that views will be mixed. I hope that Members will appreciate the courtesy that this move affords those Members who may not otherwise be able to attend. It also extends that consideration to those people whose doors will be visited over the coming days after the sitting.