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Review Into Whether Wearing Masks Is Still Needed

The Health Minister says officers are considering whether it's still necessary to make it mandatory to wear masks inside public spaces.

It has been compulsory since 1 December as another measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

However, given the continued low Covid case numbers and high vaccine takeup, some islanders are questioning why it's still needed.

Deputy Richard Renouf says a change is not being recommended at the moment, so it's still important to wear them.

"We still have a threat to face with Covid and we must not let down our guard. Mask-wearing is recognised as an effective mitigation, combined with others, where people are gathering together in uncontrolled places.

"I acknowledge that there seems to be research out there that says wearing masks is ineffective and not good for us, but at the same time, there is amply research to the contrary.

"This is a matter that we need advice upon and advice is being sought."

That review includes the question of whether students and staff in schools should still wear masks.

Secondary school and higher education students are encouraged to wear face coverings inside when distancing is not possible.

Assistant Education Minister Deputy Scott Wickenden says he hopes to give an update next week, following advice from medics.

Deputy Louise Doublet told the States Assembly that she received an email from a medical practitioner outlining the harms caused by masks - and she has also been told of concerns by parents about children wearing masks for several hours each day.

She says the evidence suggests it isn't needed.

"I haven't seen that it's necessary in schools anymore - given that children do not spread to the virus to the same extent as adults, given our case numbers are so low, and given the weight of evidence of the harm that it's causing children."

Deputy Doublet also spoke of her disappointment at the Chief Minister's response to her questions earlier this week about when schools can return to normality.

"I wonder if he (Senator John Le Fondre) could just explain why there can be certainty around when standing alcoholic drink service can resume, when saunas and jacuzzis can reopen, when people can have house parties, and when nightclubs can fully reopen, but we don't seem to have certainty on when children can have whole school assemblies, on when secondary school children can learn without wearing a mask for seven hours a day, and when children will not have to miss chunks of the school day because of staggered drop-offs."

Senator Le Fondre says he's expecting schools to return to normal when the rest of the island does - around the middle of June.

Meanwhile, some Covid powers have been extended for another six months.

They include requiring incoming travellers to isolate, being able to order businesses to close or restrict trade if necessary, and controlling gathering numbers.

They'll expire on 31 October.

Deputy Renouf says this is a reasonable extension as it's not an unduly long time and should allow the states to consider if they're still needed through the winter.

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