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Major contact tracing drive as island seeks to open further

Major contact tracing drive as island seeks to open further

Friday 07 August 2020

Major contact tracing drive as island seeks to open further


Pubs, cafés and restaurants are to receive spot checks this week to monitor their contact tracing measures as the island seeks to open up even further, including the nighttime economy.

Currently, it is not a legal requirement to take customers' names and contact details, but the government has launched a major drive this week to get as many voluntarily doing so as possible as Jersey edges towards Level 1 lockdown.

Under the 'Safe Exit Framework', a full move into Level 1 would see the return of nightlife and public events, accompanied by public health measures.

Ahead of a Ministerial announcement about the next steps for the island today, the campaign has been launched to reinforce the message that hospitality businesses must follow guidelines to both keep islanders safe and allow everyone to keep enjoying the freedoms enjoyed under a loosened lockdown so far.

The campaign is a joint initiative between the Health and Safety Inspectorate (HSI) and Public Health Department, supported by the Police.

Pictured: An announcement on the next steps for Jersey is expected at midday.

The government will be writing to every relevant venue in the island urging them to comply with contact tracing measures and ensuring physical distancing is in place, while inspectors will be making unannounced visits to premises.

HSI Director Tammy Fage said they’ll be aiming to spot any “patterns” in compliance issues, and will then be reporting back to the government with their findings, which will be considered by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC).

From there, it will be considered whether any other kind of formal enforcement is necessary.

Ms Fage told Express the campaign is being launched now to ensure that businesses maintain safety measures despite the very few cases of the virus in the island. 

“The weather is getting good, people are getting more confident as there are low levels in the island – but we have opened the borders,” she said. Nearly all new cases in Jersey in recent weeks have been picked up during the arrivals screening process.

Having observed the trends in other countries – where new ‘clusters’ of cases tend to centre around bars and clubs, as “when alcohol is concerned, people tend to lose their inhibitions” – Ms Fage said it was important that good contact tracing is in place in Jersey so that, if there are any outbreaks, they can be tracked and isolated fast. 

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Pictured: Clusters of cases being found around the world tend to be linked with bars and clubs.

If distancing isn’t followed and good contact gathering isn’t done, her warning was stark: “It has to be a community effort. Unless we are able to do this, we risk going back up the restrictions.” 

Privacy concerns had previously been raised about how bars and clubs could collect customer information while remaining compliant with data protection rules, but the Office of the Information Commissioner has since provided guidance on how to collect and store this securely.

If islanders are concerned about any businesses not complying with requirements, they are being asked to report these concerns to workplacecovid@gov.je

The push to get businesses gathering contact details comes just after the Treasury Minister released around £240,000 to bring a contact tracing app to JerseyExpress has contacted Tony Moretta, the head of Digital Jersey leading the test and trace efforts, for comment and is awaiting a reply.

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