Less Covid restrictions in Brighton and Hove City Council

THE majority of Covid-related restrictions put in place for Brighton and Hove Town Hall meetings are coming to an end.

Brighton and Hove City Council resumed in-person meetings in May last year, but limited speakers to one speaker per political group at full council meetings. And seats in the visitors’ gallery had to be booked in advance.

But with immediate effect, the visitors’ grandstand will be fully open again. The number of Council members taking part in debates would also be unlimited.

The Council had officially separated the “public engagement” element from full Council meetings in an attempt to reduce the number of Council Chamber members.

But from the next meeting of the General Council in October, citizens’ questions, petitions and deputations would again be part of the main negotiations.

However, residents attending meetings would be given the opportunity to do so remotely.

Council members, civil servants and others attending town hall meetings would still be required to wear a mask and take a “lateral flow test” to check for symptoms of the coronavirus.

Speaking at a council meeting, Green Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said the NHS had brought mask-wearing back to hospitals and GPs across Sussex, as well as other areas such as Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and Wales.

He said, “Look around. We are in the middle of another wave of infections. The subvariant of omicron BA.5 is even more contagious than omicron.

“ONS (Office for National Statistics) data shows that one in 30 people in the city will test positive for Covid-19.

“Fortunately, the vaccination program doesn’t result in that many deaths, but let’s face it, it’s kind of over.

“For example, hospitalizations of people with Covid are rising sharply. Let’s not forget that a long Covid is devastating for tens of thousands of people and repeat infections increase the likelihood of ending up in intensive care.”

Councilor Mac Cafferty added that healthcare mask-wearing should never have ended and he hopes it will return to public transport.

He said Conservatives’ proposals to limit the council to following government guidance on mask-wearing was “the height of irresponsibility”, adding that the group was “pretending Covid just went away”.

Conservative councilwoman Vanessa Brown said wearing a mask should be a personal choice. She said: “By still requiring a mask at council and committee meetings and requiring a test (of a lateral flow) to be carried out before attending, we are completely at odds with other councils and the whole country.

“No masks will be worn in Lewes, East Sussex and Worthing councils and the London Assembly. Even in Bristol, which has a similar Green/Labour mix, there are no such rules.

“We would prefer the government’s guidance, which is advisory rather than mandatory.”

Labor opposition joint leader Councilor John Allcock said: “We believe we have to look after our community. We have to take care of each other. And we have to be good at prevention.

“We respect the individual choice, but we must respect those who consider wearing a mask to be very important and feel the need to be safe.”

Further changes to the Covid-related rules for towns meetings have been delegated to Council chief Geoff Raw, in consultation with faction leaders.

READ MORE: Brighton and Hove Council Services Row

https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20507343.fewer-covid-restrictions-brighton-hove-city-council/?ref=rss Less Covid restrictions in Brighton and Hove City Council

Fry Electronics Team

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