A group of politicians is pushing the government to tighten up its traveller testing rules ahead of borders reopening later this month.
The Government is planning to return to its previous ‘traffic’ light system, which marks arrivals as ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ depending on the number of covid cases in the jurisdictions they have visited over the past 14 days.
Borders will be opening to UK travel on 26 April, and then travel from all other jurisdictions will resume on 17 May.
The current plan is to mark jurisdictions as ‘green’ if they have fewer than 50 covid cases per 100,000 population. Anyone marked as green will be able to leave quarantine after their first border test.
But the Safe Travel Guidelines Review Panel – a group of politicians tasked with scrutinising the island’s pandemic border policy – has put forward a proposal that would see this criteria tightened up.
Pictured: Anyone who arrives from a green zone can leave quarantine after receiving a negative result from their Day 0 covid test at the border.
“The success of the ongoing vaccination programme does mean that we are now in a very different position to that which prevailed last year, however, as a community we must also remember that this does not mean that the pandemic is now over. While increasing numbers of Islanders have now been afforded a greater level of protection through vaccination this coronavirus, in its number of variant forms, still poses a threat,” the panel reasoned in a report accompanying their proposition.
“The changes to the Safer Travel Policy suggested by the Panel aim to enhance the measures that have been put in place already by Government and to ensure that there is a counter-balance to the relaxation of restrictions taking place both here and in the UK and a recognition that we are allowing greater levels of travel at a time when the virus remains prevalent in a number of jurisdictions.
“The Panel are also seeking to ensure that the island avoids any situation similar to that in December 2020 when inbound travel combined with a relaxation in of restrictions resulted in a spike in cases.”
They also made reference to STAC’s disapproval of Ministers’ decision to loosen the criteria for green arrivals last year.
The group will also be asking the States Assembly to vote in favour of ranking UK regions by the larger upper tier local authority (counties, metropolitain districts, inner and outer London and unitary authorities) rather than the lower tier or council areas, as was the case last year.
Pictured: All arrivals are currently marked as 'red', meaning they must isolate until they receive a Day 10 negative test - but the full traffic light system will be returning for UK arrivals on 26 April and everywhere else on 17 May.
“The upper tier is the larger of the regional classifications and the Panel’s rationale for proposing it as the preferred option is that it provides a better level of protection given the likely movement of potentially COVID-19 positive individuals between smaller regional areas following the relaxation of movement restrictions in the UK where the stay at home order has now been removed.”
Concluding their proposition, the panel writes: “The number of cases in other jurisdictions remains high with a number of countries, including France, which currently has active cases at over 1.079 million having faced the grip of a third wave coupled with slower vaccine uptake than the UK.
“In all these circumstances, while it is right that the Government takes a proactive and optimistic approach to travel it should also do so with an appropriate level of caution in what remains an uncertain global situation.
“The pandemic is an evolving global situation and requires fast but considered decision- making. However, there also needs to be a transparency to that decision-making to ensure that the public can be confident that the policies developed are fully considered, properly scrutinised and the best interests of the whole community. It is, therefore, that States Members and Scrutiny are aware of changes to the policies with enough notice to fulfil their role on behalf of the public.”
It is expected that the proposal will face an urgent vote in next week’s meeting of the States Assembly.
Meanwhile, the States of Guernsey confirmed today that the island's country and regional travel classification system is due to return next week.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.