The decision was made to pedestrianise the street during lockdown for public health reasons, on the basis that the move would help physical distancing for those using the area.
The Chamber of Commerce has released a statement calling for it to be reopened immediately, claiming that the most senior medical officer and the Health Minister had not recommended its closure.
‘In response to the increasing levels of frustration of Jersey Chamber members, we have spent the past two months seeking clarity on the actual reasons why Broad Street has been closed off,’ the organisation’s statement says.
‘Following a lengthy process of being passed from department to department, Chamber enquiries can reveal that the Health Minister [Richard Renouf] has not recommended that Broad Street should be closed and the medical officer of health [Dr Susan Turnbull] has not asked for this either.’
The body’s vice-president, John Shenton, said he felt that there was an agenda being pushed by some to have the street closed off to traffic permanently.
‘It has been a long-held political wish of some to have Broad Street pedestrianised,’ he said.
‘That is a discussion and consultation to be had, but it does appear that the [Infrastructure] minister [Kevin Lewis] is using Covid-19, to close a particular road, citing “health risks” when no other roads are closed and neither the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee nor the Health Minister have requested it.’
Meanwhile, Daphne East, who chairs Chamber’s Commerce, Retail and Supply committee, said that the closure of Broad Street made ‘little sense’.
‘It is now clear that the medical advice has not called for this road to be closed,’ she said.
‘Given the main concerns of safe distancing are for indoors rather than outdoors, it appears very odd that one can be seated in a bar or restaurant, but the minister insists closing Broad Street, as opposed to any other roads, in support of physical distancing.’
In response to the comments, however, a government spokeswoman said that it was unlikely that physical-distancing measures in public areas would be relaxed ‘at this time’.
‘Broad Street is currently closed to traffic to allow physical distancing at particular pinch points in St Helier,’ she said.
‘Providing public spaces for physical distancing is part of our effort to encourage people, especially those at high risk, to feel confident to come back into town.
‘Contrary to the Chamber of Commerce announcement, medical advice is that it would not be prudent to relax measures further and that, as we enter the autumn and winter, we may need to re-escalate our ability to distance when outside the home.
‘This is being kept under review and the Chief Minister has extended an invitation to meet with Chamber representatives to discuss the government’s response to Covid.’
A petition to reopen Broad Street to traffic had received more than 1,300 signatures at the time of writing and is due to receive a ministerial response.