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Hundreds call for ‘lockdown’ as coronavirus fears grow

Hundreds call for ‘lockdown’ as coronavirus fears grow

Thursday 12 March 2020

Hundreds call for ‘lockdown’ as coronavirus fears grow


More than 1,500 islanders are demanding that Jersey be put on “lockdown” after a second case of coronavirus was officially confirmed in the island last night.

Via an e-petition, the growing group is urging the government to “Prevent any spread of the Coronavirus in our Island by only allowing in food, medical and other needed supplies until a vaccine or treatment has been created.”

It also calls for restrictions on visitors to the Jersey, stating: “Do not allow the general public or anyone else into the Island, without quarantine, or staff wearing PPE removing any goods needed.”

“Jersey is a very small island, therefore making it easier for any viruses to spread," the e-petition, authored by 'GH', adds.

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Pictured: The e-petition had over 1,500 signatures at the time of writing.

It now has enough signatures to generate a response from Ministers, who have pledged to reply within 24 hours.

It rocketed overnight after health officials confirmed last night that an individual who had recently returned from Italy had tested positive for the illness.

They are said to be “well”, but self-isolating alongside a family member they had been in contact with.

Italy, which is on the list of hardest hit countries, has so far imposed a lockdown, while US President Donald Trump decided this week to suspend most travel from Europe to curb the virus’s spread.

This morning, Denmark became the second European country to impose a lockdown and the Republic Ireland said it would be closing all schools, colleges and childcare facilities.

It comes after the World Health Organisation officially declared coronavirus a global pandemic. 

The definition refers to the transmissibility of the illness, rather than its severity.

Symptoms are ‘mild’ in 80% of cases.

Jersey’s Emergencies Council is meeting today in the Royal Court building to discuss what measures – economic, education and health-related – it will be taking in response to the health emergency.

The travel industry has so far taken a significant hit, with FlyDirect heavily discounting flights to Tenerife, while Blue Islands has decided to cancel its London City route.

“There has been a sharp reduction in corporate travel to this typically popular business hub and it’s clear that the coronavirus is having an impact on worldwide travel,” Rob Veron, CEO of Blue Islands explained.

“We have seen local airlines together with low cost and international carriers cancel flights and change their schedules in response to the impact of coronavirus. Many of our business customers have been told not to travel, and of course, we are starting to see conferences and exhibitions cancelled.” 

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Pictured: Blue Islands said it was forced to cancel its London City route.

Express has asked the government whether it will consider dipping into its rainy day fund or Stabilisation Fund to help local businesses affected by the outbreak, but has not received a reply.

In the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £30bn package to boost the economy in response to the outbreak. 

Among his measures are a suspension of business rates for many firms. The Bank of England, meanwhile, has also confirmed an emergency cut to interest rates. 

NatWest International, which operates across the Channel Islands, this morning announced a package of emergency support for its local customers, including mortgage and loan repayment 'holidays' of up to three months, temporary emergency funding with no fees, an increased cash withdrawal limit of up to £500.

Small and medium sized businesses, meanwhile, are being offered temporary emergency loans with no fees, and deferred capital repayments of up to six moths on variable rate lending.

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Pictured: NatWest International has announced a raft of emergency support measures for customers and small and medium sized businesses.

It also vowed to work closely and collaboratively with Jersey's government going forward.

The measures were "warmly" welcomed by Jersey's Minister for External Relations and Financial Services, Senator Ian Gorst.

He commented: "This will support local businesses and islanders through any financial difficulties that they might be facing, and I encourage anyone affected to contact their bank to discuss the financial support available."

Ahead of any measures being announced by the government, numerous local businesses have clamped down on non-essential travel and prevented employees from attending public events.

Many are now examining remote working and digital conferencing as a way forward if large numbers of employees are forced into self-isolation.

The government is among those aiming to ensure that “all staff whose jobs allow it can work from home if that becomes necessary”.

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Pictured: The government is thinking about allowing employees work from home.

An RBS economist due to speak at a Chamber Lunch yesterday – a regular meeting of the island’s business leaders – gave her presentation via video link after the bank decided she shouldn’t attend in person. 

Despite being the key sponsor, a representative from RBSI also appeared via video link from Bath Street.

Tweeting after the meet-up, attendee and Head of the Digital Jersey Academy Rory Steel said: “Technology is our saviour… I’m a fan of saving company time with videoconferencing over meetings. Maybe the silver lining of our current situation is that online communication and remote working will improve.”

Meanwhile, Guernsey’s Institute of Directors announced yesterday the intention to hold its next meeting virtually. 

Its mid-term breakfast next week will be live-streamed, with attendees able to watch the debate online and interact digitally via social media. 

In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the government said there is still no official advice to cancel all large public events, but that they would consider it on a “case-by-case basis”. 

Yesterday’s Swimarathon charity fundraiser at Les Quennevais pool was called off as a “precaution”, given the large attendance and hot and humid atmosphere in which bugs thrive. 

The government has also postponed a ‘Closer To Home’ event due to take place at St. Martin’s Public Hall today. 

Officials said the event, which aimed to showcase the island’s community-based health charities and services to older islanders, would no longer be possible “due to a high number of organisations having to divert resources to support vulnerable clients”. 

In a bid to raise awareness of good hygiene practices, the government has started sending leaflets about managing the threat of coronavirus to 46,000 households across the island.

The leaflets explain the importance of handwashing, and provide specific advice to those planning off-island travel.

For more information about coronavirus, including the list of affected countries and advice on when to self-isolate, click HERE.

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Posted by David Whalley on
Over 1,500 people already lost their heads!!! How many people have died from Flu this winter??? Keep calm and carry on.
Posted by Gary de Gruchy on
Are these 1500+ people serious?????????
Posted by CHANTAL GOSSELIN on
The trouble with lock down is it will kill the travel economy- this may mean you and others may loose you’re job! We’re flying home toMorrow from a place with no cases at all! And we have a dog we need to take care of ? Surely a screening process before travel?
Posted by Valerie Payne on
If the island goes into lockdown how do people who live in Jersey come back from holiday? If flights are stopped we will be stranded abroad. What a ridiculous idea! States of Jersey are doing an excellent job right now! As long as residents follow the guidelines everyone is safe.
Posted by andrei bejan on
This is very serious and will become even more serious in the future but let be honest the virus it here...what’s the point?second person arrive on the island infected with the virus..arrive on the island but they haven’t had any contact with anyone else from jersey.
How did that happen!!!??? Did they teleport in their home?!!!hmmm
As we know planes and cruises ships are the worst for spreading viruses do to the ac ventilation.right?!! So What about the other ppl in the plane?!!!what about the staff handling there bags at the airport...hopefully they didn’t ride Home in the bus or taxi.
Why closing the island now?!yes if this was done before any person infected arrived on it maybe yes.
Posted by James Wells on
Guernsey is doing so much more, and being sensible. The only reason Jersey and people living on the island is because they don't want to hurt the precious finance sector... that's it. The hell with anyone who gets ill or dies as long as Jersey can remain the disgusting gluttonous papertiger that's gonna collapse one day and they'll wish they took the calls for diversification of the economy seriously.
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