Jersey's Ministers and senior officials will this week begin “formalised” talks on how to exit lockdown, days after Guernsey announced a phased plan to get people out of their homes.
Guernsey was the first of the Channel Islands to announce lockdown, with Jersey following around a week later.
On Friday, Guernsey’s Chief Minister, Deputy Gavin St. Pier, announced plans for beginning to release the significant curbs on local freedoms.
He told islanders: “The rock solid safest option would be to maintain a full lockdown in household bubbles until the virus burns itself out or a vaccine is developed – but by that time the Bailiwick’s entire social and economic fabric would be in ruins, so it is simply not an option.”
Pictured: Guernsey's Chief Minister said waiting for a vaccine before lifting lockdown would paralyse the local economy.
Instead, he said the island’s leaders had put together a four-step exit plan, with Phase One having already begun when contactless home delivery was allowed.
Phase Two will begin on Saturday 25 April, which will see some workers allowed to “move from their household bubble to their work bubble and back again, but no more”.
This will not include those employed in non-essential services involving direct personal contact, however, such as hair, beauty and other bodily treatments, for example.
Although he was unable to say when Phase Three will begin, Guernsey’s most senior politician explained that it will see free movement around the island return, with off-island travel “very limited”.
Schools and businesses will be able to open under strict health controls, as well as some other public venues, but bars and nightclubs are likely to remain closed.
Pictured: In Guernsey's Phase Three, schools will be able to open under strict rules.
Deputy St. Pier went on to describe Phase Four as the “new normal”, explaining that all travel routes will be open, but “there may be longer term impacts on ‘business as usual’, which will require the immediate implementation of an economic recovery plan.”
He warned, however, that lockdown could be re-triggered at any time, such as in the event of ICU difficulties or staffing levels becoming “critical”.
“You will have many, many questions about what all of this means for you. As ever, we will not have all the answers,” Guernsey’s leader explained.
“What we will do is attempt to push out as quickly as we can over the next few days as much information and guidance as possible about the strategy so that we can then start answering the questions that you still have,” he pledged.
Jersey’s Chief Minister said during a press conference last week that officials had begun discussing how to unlock lockdown, but that these discussions would only enter their formal stages this week and next.
Video: Jersey's Chief Minister said the government wasn't yet ready to make exit strategy announcements at a press conference last week.
Senator Le Fondré added that data from antibody testing kits – if they do “pass muster” following testing for reliability - will be key to “influencing and informing” the approach the government takes.
The 'pin prick' blood tests aim to find out if someone has already had the virus and may therefore be immune. However, global concerns have been raised over their accuracy, and WHO is currently only recommending their use in research settings.
"They should not be used in any other setting, including for clinical decision-making, until evidence supporting use for specific indications is available," the authority says.
The government has 150,000 kits on order, while 10,000 arrived last week from a different supplier.
Elsewhere in the conference, the Chief Minister also said that an extended lockdown into November or December would not be favourable due to winter illnesses, “which could put our capacity into a difficult position”.
He said the government would be taking a holistic view, also taking into account “things like mental health issues from the problems of being in lockdown for too long”.
Senator Le Fondré went on to promise that islanders’ health would be put before the economy.
Pictured: WHO says antibody tests should only be used in research settings.
The issue of imposing and releasing lockdown isn't the only area that has led islanders to draw comparisons between the neighbouring islands.
Calls are growing for Jersey to release more detailed statistics about patients confirmed to have covid-19, following the example of Guernsey's breakdowns, which have shown around 40% of overall cases and all deaths to be linked with care homes, and the number of people deemed to have recovered from the illness.
Jersey's recovery statistics were supposed to be published last week, but are still yet to appear on the government's dedicated covid-19 web page.
This morning, it was reported that the UK Prime Minister – who is currently recovering from covid-19 – urged against lifting lockdown too soon amid fears of a second wave.
It comes after Dominic Raab MP, who is deputising for the Prime Minister, announced last week that the UK would be in lockdown for at least another three weeks.
Video: Dominic Raab sets out the UK's five criteria for lifting lockdown. (Sky News/YouTube)
He said that this would only change when five tests are met:
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