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Guernsey to consider mask law as covid hits highest level yet

Guernsey to consider mask law as covid hits highest level yet

Friday 12 November 2021

Guernsey to consider mask law as covid hits highest level yet


Guernsey’s covid authorities are to discuss whether it’s time to make face-mask use a legal requirement next week, as covid numbers hit their highest level yet in the island.

The number of cases in the Bailiwick now stands at 385.

At the start of the week there were fewer than 300 cases. A month ago there were only 80 cases. 

With the number of cases now higher than at any other time during the pandemic, Chief Minister Peter Ferbrache - who chairs the island’s emergency decision-making group, the Civil Contingency Authority (CCA) – has today written an open letter to the Bailiwick.

In it, he says the CCA is "concerned that we’re standing at a threshold now where, if we don’t act, we will see the number of cases rise higher and higher until there’s no way to reign them back in".

"Our capacity to track and trace active cases per day is at its maximum threshold," said Deputy Ferbrache in his open letter.

"There is concern that cases could climb to such high numbers that the small percentage who would still become very ill and need hospital care is still a high number.

"We’re also worried that we could have so many active cases, isolating at the same time, that the delivery of key services will be compromised.

"And we’re worried we’ll look back at this point right now as the point when we should have acted but didn’t.”

Three weeks ago, the CCA "strongly recommended" masks in crowded areas and indoor venues where social distancing was not possible– a move followed by Jersey last week.

Deputy Ferbrache accepted in his letter than "the uptake has not been so good".

"Let’s face it, the use of face coverings is poor," he said. "Even in the sorts of places where they are recommended - crowded places, places with poor ventilation, places where it’s hard to socially distance – very few people are using them."

The CCA is due to meet on Tuesday and will discuss the possibility of turning its recommendation to wear face masks into a mandatory requirement. Deputy Ferbrache said that "...as much as we don’t like it, we have to keep the possibility of making face coverings mandatory on the table."

Pictured: The latest covid-19 figures released by the States include 79 new cases, bringing the number of known active cases to 385, which is more than at any other time during the pandemic.

From today, public sector employees in States of Guernsey buildings and visitors to public buildings will be expected to wear face coverings.

“If we want to encourage the community to adopt these measures, the States need to lead by example," said Deputy Ferbrache.

However, Deputy Ferbrache's letter also sets out in some detail what he calls "counter arguments" against making face masks mandatory. 

"We don’t believe it’s the job of government to legislate how everyone lives their day to day lives – at least, not unless we absolutely have to in order to protect the health and wellbeing and freedoms of others," he said. 

CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

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