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ALL rules to be scrapped in months under new covid plan

ALL rules to be scrapped in months under new covid plan

Friday 28 January 2022

ALL rules to be scrapped in months under new covid plan

Friday 28 January 2022


The Government has unveiled a plan to lift all remaining covid measures - including quarantine for symptomatic people - starting next week, when mandatory masks and work from home guidance will come to an end.

More measures will be withdrawn the following week and throughout February and March.

The “emergency phase” of the pandemic – which began when the island entered lockdown in March 2020 will formally come to an end on 31 March, when the need for positive cases to isolate – both symptomatic and asymptomatic - ends.

However, schools and healthcare settings, such as surgeries and care homes, will have separate policies to follow, which are currently being updated. 

The timetable for the 'de-escalation plan' is:

Tuesday 1 February

  • Masks: legal requirement to wear in shops and other public spaces ends (separate policies for schools and healthcare settings).
  • Work from home: Recommendation to ‘work from home where possible’ ends.
  • Business contact tracing: Removal of legal requirement for businesses to collect contact details.

Monday 7 February

  • Travel policy: All requirements, including border testing and the need to fill in a pre-departure travel form will come to an end.
  • Government contact tracing: Government-led contact tracing, including schools, comes to an end, to be replaced by recommendation that positive cases inform people they’ve met.
  • School rules: Education policies are refreshed. This is likely to include a requirement that children who have symptoms and/or test positive for covid stay away from school, isolate and get a PCR test. Also, children will be required to do a LFT each week-day morning when at school, at least for short term.
  • LFT reporting: End of recommendation that people report negative LFT results, except release from isolation.

By Monday 28 February

  • Rules and regulations: All Covid regulations and orders to expire, except the overarching law enabling rules to be brought in, which will end in August. Regulations requiring screening, assessment and isolation at the border, if needed, will expire by 31 March.
  • Future of STAC: Completion of review of whether STAC - the group of scientific and technical staff who advise ministers on covid - is still needed.
  • Future of CAM: Meetings of ‘Competent Authority Ministers’ – the group of ministers who have legal responsibility for covid-related laws – to meet far less frequently.
  • A new strategy: 'Post-emergency-phase covid strategy' to be approved and published.

By 31 March

  • Isolation: People who test positive for covid will no longer be required to isolate by law, even if they have symptoms.
  • Reporting of statistics: From now until April, the Government will begin to phase out the range, volume and frequency of data about covid that it provides to the public, including daily case numbers.

The Government say now is the time for a comprehensive de-escalation of measures.

This is because of the high vaccination coverage, particularly in vulnerable groups, with more than 88% of over 50s receiving their booster, together with a recent risk assessment from the UK which provides a high level of confidence that the severity of the omicron variant – which is the dominant one – is much lower than previous incarnations.

All this means that the case fatality rate has decreased by 93% since last winter, when there were fewer cases but more deaths.

So far this winter, there have been 19,500 cases and 21 deaths compared to last winter’s 2,900 cases and 37 deaths. 

This means the rate has fallen from 1.3% to 0.1%.

Ministers also argue that for a small island with finite resources, it is time to pay more attention to other health risks.

They are also urging individuals to take a "self-management" approach as the rules and measures recede, including getting fully vaccinated if they are not already, continuing to use the free LFT kits, avoiding close contact with people if they do test positive and/or have symptoms. 

The 'post-emergency' phase will include the immediate rolling out of ventilation and air filtration equipment, as well as CO2 monitors, in all education settings and updating guidance to businesses and individuals.  

Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré said that the 'de-escalation plan' "reflects the progress we have made as an island"

"Jersey has come a long way since March 2020 - at the start of the pandemic. Over this time, we have worked with islanders to safeguard our collective public health, we have worked with businesses to protect jobs and livelihoods, and we have worked with local charities to support vulnerable islanders," he continued.

"Part of the de-escalation is to change the use of Competent Authority Ministers as key individual Ministerial roles within the Post Emergency Strategy are clarified. We have asked officers to begin working on the Strategy and expect that this will be published by the end of next month."

Addressing potential concerns from vulnerable islanders about the impact 'de-escalation' might have on them, Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf added: "I would like to reassure islanders that they can continue to use the guidance available to them and that the current prevailing disease context is one that contains far less risk than it once did.

"In addition to the protection of vaccination, we will also be rolling out the use of an anti-viral drug, Molnupiravir, in the coming week to ensure our island's most vulnerable can receive treatment for covid, if required, which will provide an added level or protection for Islanders who are more vulnerable."

He added: "It is vital that if we are to maintain a post-emergency state where there are no legal measures, that islanders keep up to date with their vaccination schedule, continue testing themselves regularly with lateral flow tests, and responsibly manage their own risks and the risk they pose to others."

Economic Development Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham commented: "In just over a week, we will be removing the requirements under the Safer Travel Policy and returning to pre-pandemic inbound travel arrangements. I hope that this will help islanders to reconnect with loved ones and will mean that travel over the half-term period will be easier for families. Also, I’m sure this will be welcomed by many islanders and businesses who will be welcoming tourists as we head towards the Spring season."

Dr Ivan Muscat MBE, who has been leading the island's response to the pandemic, continued to encourage islanders to keep "up to date" with their vaccinations, and regularly use LFTs to monitor if they have covid.

"All of these responses remain in place, and we must maintain good vaccination protection despite very many measures being de-escalated, to ensure we continue to move in the right direction," he explained.

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Comments

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Posted by Jenn Smith on
This is a welcome good news story. Well done to everyone who helped make this happen, especially Dr Muscat
Posted by Keith Marsh on
I wish I had the faith in the people of Jersey to follow the rules, now that Laws are going to be scrapped.
Posted by John Smith on
About time too! Not sure we have to wait until Tuesday, cant imagine many people will bother waiting until then. Let us just hope this is the end of it and let people take responsibility for themselves rather than imposing draconian laws on people.
Posted by Roy Dean on
Reminds me of Pavlov
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