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WATCH: 'Vaccine passport' scheme in Jersey's summer travel plan

WATCH: 'Vaccine passport' scheme in Jersey's summer travel plan

Monday 10 May 2021

WATCH: 'Vaccine passport' scheme in Jersey's summer travel plan


Fully vaccinated passengers arriving from green or amber areas of the UK will not need to isolate upon arriving in Jersey this summer.

From 28 May, incoming UK passengers from the areas who have certification that they have had both of their vaccinations will still have to have a Day 0 test, but will not have to isolate following it.

Testing for all green arrivals will also be reduced, with arrivals only required to take two tests – one on Day 0 and one on Day 8.

Testing and isolation requirements for Amber and Red arrivals remains unchanged, however.

Individual national classifications for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies will also be given instead of regional classifications, intended to simplify travel to Jersey.

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Pictured: Green arrivals will only have to take two tests upon arrival, as opposed to the three they are currently required to have.

The classifications for the UK will be reset on 28 May and retrospectively applied for 14 days – for example, to be classified as Green, travellers must have spent the previous 14 nights in Green regions.

Red, Amber and Green classifications for the rest of the world will also restart from 28 May, with classifications aligning as closely as possible to the UK Joint Biosecurity Centre traffic light system.

Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré said: “Infection rates across the UK have been on a downward trend for the last couple of months, and this change to a national classification for the UK will be a welcome move for many Islanders and travellers visiting Jersey this summer.

“The new national classification for the UK will replace our current Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA) regional breakdown. Moving from a LTLA classification to a national classification means most areas of the UK will move to a more lenient classification."

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Pictured: Senator John Le Fondré said the new rules came as UK cases saw a downward trend.

He continued: “Based on the current data, this would mean that England, Wales and Scotland would be classified as Green, and Northern Ireland would be classified as Amber. The classifications will continue to be reviewed and published each week.

“The decision has been made based on a number of factors, including public health risk, clarity for travellers and island, and the short and long-term economic impact to the island. The policies will enable strong connectivity with the UK over the summer. Ministers will review the position as we move through the summer months.” 

However, while most of the UK would be classified as green, certain regions continue to experience high levels of covid spread, particularly in the Yorkshire and the Humber region.

Deputy Medical Officer for Health Dr Ivan Muscat explained during a press conference about the new travel system yesterday that the new travel system contained 'emergency brakes', allowing for travel to be rapidly banned from a particular area if "there is an increase in the number of variant concerns in a particular part of the UK, such that it has led to surge testing over there."

Economic Development Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “Given the exceptional progress that continues to be made with the vaccine programme in both Jersey and the UK, we will be introducing a ‘green light’ status for islanders and visitors arriving from Green and Amber regions - if they have been fully vaccinated against covid-19.

“It will be for those who have received both doses of an approved covid-19 vaccine in the UK, with the second dose at least two weeks before arriving in Jersey.

“Reconnecting our island and encouraging visitors to Jersey will not only allow families and friends to be reunited, but will also provide a much-needed boost to our hospitality industry who have faced immense challenges over the past year.”

Illustrating how the economy had been hit, the Chief Minister said that just 556 people travelled to Jersey in the week beginning 16 April 2021 compared to 18,000 at the same point in 2019.

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Pictured: The Health Minister said that the Government was confident the new policy was robust.

The UK Government said that from 17 May, vaccinated individuals would be able to record this status in their NHS app. Yesterday, the Chief Minister confirmed that the Government was working with Digital Jersey on a vaccine passport solution for islanders. For now, islanders' vaccine certifications will likely be in paper form.

The Chief Minister disagreed that introducing a 'vaccine passport' system when those under 35 have not had the opportunity to get both their jabs, and may not receive them until August, was discriminatory. Dr Muscat said that the argument could work the other way - restricting the freedoms of older people based on the fact younger people had not had their jabs.

Elsewhere in the conference, Ministers were asked if the legal requirement to wear masks in public spaces would be removed any time soon.

This would not be the case for the moment, they said, but Senator Farnham said he hoped it would be sooner rather than later.

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Pictured: Senator Farnham said he hoped the legal requirement to wear a mask would soon be lifted.

Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf, said he was convinced the Government's new travel policy, which will only apply for summer, was "robust" and complimented by the vaccine programme, which has seen "43% of adults over 18 years... fully vaccinated, including islanders who are most vulnerable and most at risk" as of Wednesday.   

“Another vital area of work which protects the island is our expanded Testing Programme which now covers arrivals, symptomatic people, direct contacts, vital services and frontline staff, as well as community testing within businesses, schools and care homes," he added.

Earlier this month, the Government also announced plans to roll out mass weekly lateral flow testing to businesses spanning hospitality, retail, agriculture and fishing, wellbeing, cosmetic, and beauty services, transport, post and delivery services.

Once businesses have signed up online, the government plans to post sufficient lateral flow testing devices to them, alongside instructions explaining how to use them, asking them to test all employees every week, and submit the results. If an employee tests positive, they will then be required to isolate pending the results of a full PCR test.

13 were due to trial the new system last week, with the official launch set for the 17 May. Asked by Express during the conference how many businesses in total had agreed to take part in the lateral flow regime so far, Ministers said they were not aware. A Government official later said it was 16.

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Pictured: Dr Ivan Muscat, the Deputy Medical Officer for Health.

STAC had previously disagreed with Ministers over a loosening of travel restrictions last year which led to a dramatic spike in the number of covid infections in Jersey and the island being sent into a mini lockdown.

When asked who had drawn up the new system, Dr Ivan Muscat explained that STAC had been asked to provide advice on whether classifications should change from regional to national level.

"In STAC there is always a lot of discussion and there isn’t always necessarily a consensus, there may be a difference of opinion but usually with a majority of view one way or another, and that advice and thinking about the evidence is what is presented to Ministers and it is Ministers who make the final decision based on the discussion and thinking that has gone on in STAC, which is of course based on the evidence available to STAC," he said.

"So for example, some of the thinking that went into the lower tier areas, we based that on where people had slept but you don’t necessarily work just around the corner from where your house is, you can work in another tier; the rates of infection in the UK are going down, the last SPIMO (Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling) publication issued last week indicated that on average in the UK they are seeing between 2,000 and 9,000 cases per day across England, now of course England has a population of 70 million, so if you say 7,000 news cases a day, that’s one case per 10,000 people per day, to put what would otherwise look like a large number into perspective.

"We bore that in mind that as well together of course with the increasing vaccination rates in the UK which are on par with ours. We get .7% of the vaccines that they get so we are working with them hand in hand and the simplicity of a national scheme or larger regional scheme was also very attractive, all that together led to the conclusion that it is perfectly reasonable to go for something bigger than a lower tier system."

WATCH: Press conference on the new travel regime...

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Comments

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.

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Posted by Guy de Faye on
Travel is the primary transmission vector for all disease and a feature of Coronavirus 2019 is the development of an increasing number of potentially more dangerous variants around the world, which are spreading progressively. The India variant has already been detected in the UK at a number of locations, which can only point to unsafe travel procedures. 

Once again, the Government of Jersey is gambling public health against the local economy. A repeat of the catastrophic decision making that let Covid 19 into Jersey in the first place. 

Traffic light classifications and regional analysis do not reflect the prevailing infection risk as they are results of testing previous conditions. Transport hubs, such as airports, are major infection zones, where precautionary measures such as safe distancing break down in extensive and poorly supervised queues and insufficient cleaning allows build up of the virus within buildings.

All Islanders are again being put at risk primarily for the benefit of the "Hospitality Industry", which is worth just over 4% of Jersey's economy. One quarter of that 4% is the contribution made by local people in our pubs and restaurants - so how much local health and freedom is to be sacrificed for "Hospitality Profit"? 

The description of visitors being "fully vaccinated" is entirely misleading as no vaccine gives 100% protection and vaccinated people can still be infectious.
"Green regions" are not Covid free and can harbour infection, so it is sheer folly to abandon isolation measures after travellers to Jersey will have passed through at least two high infection transfer zones just to get here. Responding to increased infection after it has arrived in Jersey is a path to further health threats.
Posted by Scott Mills on
what's the point in having the so called "vaccine"
Posted by Danny Moisan on
This is blatant discrimination against peoples freedom of choice to not be vaccinated! or are they just using this as another blackmailing attempt to make people take their undertested drugs! :( looks like I'll be spending my holidays at home then.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Whilst there is some concern about importing a few cases, there comes a time when (1) we must learn to live with this virus - like we do with flu (2) we have to get back to some form of normality. I am a great believer in some form of Covid passport to prove I have had 2 vaccinations which enable me to travel. What is missing from this briefing is how Islanders who have had 2 vaccinations will prove they have had such vaccinations. The U.K. is going down the NHS app route. Our little blue card proves it but I am sure it will not be acceptable outwith the Island in this forge-crazy world. What arrangements will be made to provide twice vaccinated Islanders with such acceptable proof? Bearing in mind a lot of people still don’t have smart phones. I don’t but I do have an ipad so will any app based system be ipad or tablet compliant? For those who have neither an ipad or other tablet how will they prove they have had 2 vaccinations? Thankfully the end is in sight.
Posted by John Henwood on
Good question posed by Ian Smith. Whilst one welcomes the fact that these proposals will make it easier for residents of the UK to visit - and we should welcome them - they do not address the needs of Islanders who want to travel abroad. The staff at Fort Regent declined to enter my jabs in my WHO Vaccination Certificate, giving me instead a small card which would be unlikely to be acceptable to authorities elsewhere. It is important that our government comes up quickly with a means of satisfactorily demonstrating that those of us who have chosen to be vaccinated are vaccinated and thus have a high degree of immunity.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
At last a step forward in that the UK (E.W.&S) goes green and travellers who have had both vaccinations get that extra "welcome to Jersey". Wonderful speech from Dr Ivan Muscat who so easily explained the extremely low risk of forward infection from such travellers.
The Island does need to remain cautions BUT at the same time has to move forward.
I'm not a supporter of this Government ~ but this is the right action at this time.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Danny, people don’t need to have a vaccine but that comes with consequences.
Nobody who hasn’t been vaccinated will be denied the right to travel, they will just have to be tested. That is their choice, which I respect but sometimes choices do have consequences.
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