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'Confidential' letter says pubs will reopen next week

'Confidential' letter says pubs will reopen next week

Wednesday 24 June 2020

'Confidential' letter says pubs will reopen next week

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Pubs are set to open for drinks alone next week, while physical distancing will drop to one metre this Friday, according to a leaked 'confidential' letter from the Economic Development Minister.

Penned to Jersey Hospitality Association (JHA) Head Simon Soar, Senator Farnham's letter was intended to be shared among JHA members to help the hospitality sector prepare for upcoming changes.

It says that, due to the low levels of covid-19 transmission, public health guidance will change from two metres safe distance to one metre from Friday 26 June in all contexts, including workplaces, hospitality and public spaces.

From that date, restaurants and cafés will be able to serve multiple households at a single table provided they maintain a one-metre distance.


Pictured: The letter was addressed to the head of the Jersey Hospitality Association, Simon Soar.

The normal licensing regime will also return, with restaurants and cafés no longer required to close by 22:45.

The letter continues: "Assuming the low rate of cases continues, it is then proposed that licensed venues including pubs may open to provide a seated alcohol-only service from 1st July. This will continue to exclude nightclubs, which are anticipated to remain closed until Level 1."

With a public announcement not due until Thursday, Senator Farnham concluded his note by urging Mr Soar to "stress" to JHA members that the information "is being shared at an early stage to give them as much notice as possible", adding: "confidentiality would be very much appreciated."

However, the letter was quickly leaked on social media and circulated island WhatsApp groups.


Pictured: The 'confidential' letter was leaked and shared across Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Posted on several forums, news of the further distancing relaxation and pubs' potential opening next week received a mixed response. Many welcomed the relaxations, while others expressed concerns that Jersey was following the path of the UK, which has had some of the highest mortality rates in the world.

Some - including a member of the Council of Ministers and other States Members - even suggested that the Minister had wanted the letter to be leaked amid growing criticism from the business lobby.

Express has asked the government for a comment on the letter leak and is awaiting a reply.

The letter comes ahead of the publication of the latest report into the spread of the virus locally by Deputy Medical Officer for Health, Dr Ivan Muscat.

In his last report, Dr Muscat said that he expected to be able to recommend a change in physical distancing guidelines to one metre to the Health Minister by 25 April.


Pictured: The letter confirms Dr Ivan Muscat's expectations that he will be able to recommend moving to one-metre distancing.

He was also tasked by the Health Minister with analysing the impact that opening up travel in and out of the island would have on the spread of covid-19, and is expected to share his findings on Thursday.

They'll be hotly anticipated by hospitality and tourism heads, who warned this week that Jersey's economy was losing £500 a minute due to the lack of visitors, as they urged Senator Farnham to speed up his decision-making.

In a late-night rebuke on Monday, the Minister hit back, recounting all the measures the Council of Ministers had taken so far to help local businesses.

Directly addressing travel, he added: “We have already undertaken a comprehensive trial at Jersey Airport to introduce a testing regime on arrival, supported by track and trace, and this will pave the way for the opening of our ports in a manner that continues to protect our island, while sustaining our valuable visitor economy."


Pictured: Travel is expected to resume in the first two weeks of July, government officials told Express.

Asked for an update on travel by Express, government officials said the Chief Minister expects off-island travel to begin in the first two weeks of July.

"Ministers are being updated on the airport testing trial, and will discuss options at their meeting this week," the spokesperson added.

CLICK TO READ: The full letter from Senator Farnham...


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