All travellers coming from the UK, including those who have visited the country for a day trip, will now be counted as arriving from a 'red' area, and so expected to isolate for 10 days.
The news comes after a new strain of corona virus is thought to be behind a sharp increase in the number of cases in the UK, especially in London, the East and South East of England.
Several countries – including France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Austria and the Netherlands – banned flights arriving from the UK in the wake of a press conference on Saturday during which the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, addressed the rising numbers of cases in the south-east of England, which has since been placed under tighter restrictions.
The Prime Minister said data showed the virus had been spreading up to 70% more rapidly due to a new variant of the virus which increases the R number.
“There is no evidence the variant causes more severe illness or higher mortality, but it does appear to be passed on significantly more easily,” he explained.
All UK arrivals, from midnight tonight will be classified as red.— Government of Jersey (@GovJersey) December 21, 2020
This will include anyone who has gone to the UK for a day trip and will be in place for at least a week.
There will be no hard-closing of the border due to the ongoing need to send patients to the UK and to... pic.twitter.com/Y5KC9w0gb6
The Chief Minister Senator John le Fondré announced on Monday afternoon that all arrivals from the UK would be classified as 'red' under Jersey's traffic light system as a "precautionary measure".
This means any passenger arriving from the UK, including those going on a day trip to the mainland, will have to isolate for 10 days and undergo three tests, one at the arrival, one on day 5 and one on day 10.
The measures will come into effect from midnight and will be in place for at least a week.
“We will not be hard-closing our border due to our ongoing need to send patients to the UK and to allow residents home to Jersey," the Chief Minister said.
“Patient treatment will continue, and islanders won’t be left stranded in the UK, but everyone arriving will need to be tested three times and stay in isolation until their day 10 negative.”
The announcement came after several States Members called for prompt action.
I understand the desire to travel but I was one of a handful of states members who voted against the safer travel policy because it clearly had weaknesses. Today, we need to see that policy really tightened up because Jersey's greatest defence is that it is an island.— Kirsten Morel (@KirstenJersey) December 21, 2020
Deputy Kirsten Morel, the Assistant Minister for Economic Development, called for the ‘Safer Travel Policy’ to be “really tightened up”.
Noting that the mutation was “even more infectious”, St. Helier Deputy Inna Gardiner wrote a “swift response” was needed to prevent it from arriving to the island.
The Covid mutation is even more infectious, we can prevent it arriving here, a swift response is needed.https://t.co/Q6E0s94CYU— Inna Gardiner (@innagardiner) December 21, 2020
Meanwhile, Senator Sam Mézec wrote to the Chief Minister on behalf of his party, Reform Jersey, saying they expected an announcement today confirming “stricter measures will apply at our borders immediately”.
“This must include ending all non-essential travel and requiring all arrivals to abide by stricter isolation requirements, without exemptions,” they added.
We have written to the Chief Minister to tell him that we expect him to take immediate action to close Jersey's borders to all non-essential travel and to impose stricter isolation requirements on all arrivals, without exemptions. pic.twitter.com/eHi750UjnI— Reform Jersey (@ReformJersey) December 21, 2020
The former Children’s Minister warned that more islanders would be “unnecessarily facing hardship” if no action is taken.
He added: “We ask you to take action immediately to proactively combat the threat of the new variant and protect Jersey.”
Pictured: The Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat.
The Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, said there is no evidence to say that the new variant affects the severity of symptoms, or responsiveness of the covid-19 vaccine.
“New mutations and strains of COVID-19 develop continually which is normal for these types of viruses," he added. "It is thought that at least nine strains are currently active in the UK.
“However, the NHS England Chief Medical Officer has estimated a 70% increase in transmission as a result of this mutation with a 0.4 increase in the R rate which we need to respond to."
It is still unclear whether the new strain is in the island - samples have been sent to the UK for analysis.
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