Ministers are meeting this afternoon to discuss the island’s response to rising covid cases and the newly-discovered Omicron variant.
In line with the UK, Jersey tightened travel rules on Friday for passengers arriving in the island from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
On Sunday, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia were also added to the red list.
Passengers arriving in Jersey after being in any of the red-listed countries will be required to take three PCR tests - on the day of arrival, and on days five and ten - and will only be able to leave isolation if they get negative results for all three.
The restrictions came in response to concerns about the Omicron variant, which was first discovered in South Africa. Three cases have been discovered in England so far and six in Scotland.
B.1.1.529 has been described as the most heavily mutated version of covid found so far, and it’s feared that it could be more transmissible or undermine the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Pictured: Travel changes were announced over the weekend.
In response, the UK Government also announced that the use of face masks would be compulsory in all shops and on public transport from Tuesday.
Face masks are only a legal requirement on public transport and at ports in Jersey. So far, mask use has only been “strongly recommended” in other public locations.
It’s expected that Jersey’s next steps – including any potential changes in mask policy – will be outlined at a press conference this week.
A Government spokesperson said Competent Authority Ministers – those legally responsible for emergency decision-making – “have been meeting regularly during the last few weeks, and are meeting again later today to discuss whether any action is needed to respond to the latest developments in the covid pandemic.”
“An update in response to the Omicron variant was issued on Friday, and a further update will be issued tomorrow,” they added.
The UK also announced compulsory PCR tests for all international arrivals by day 2, but it has been confirmed that Jersey passengers will be able to transit through as the island is part of the Common Travel Area, provided they are not arriving from a country on the red list and/or do not have a layover before their onward journey to Jersey.
Pictured: Competent Authority Ministers are meeting today.
As of Friday, there were more than 1,300 people with covid on the island, and four in five were showing symptoms. Eight individuals in hospital had the virus, and six in care homes.
Cases are rising particularly rapidly among school students, teachers and other education staff.
Between 15 and 19 November, 321 new cases among students were discovered and 37 among staff – around double the amount from the previous week.
Last week on Wednesday alone, 44 cases of covid were identified.
NASUWT, the national teachers’ union, demanded on Friday that Education Minister Deputy Scott Wickenden rapidly introduces strict measures to curb covid spread in schools.
They said teachers’ wellbeing has suffered a huge blow due to fears of catching the virus, and having to undertake “excessive” cover for sick colleagues.
This morning, the National Education Union (NEU) heaped further pressure on the Minister.
Pictured: Two teaching unions are demanding that the Education Minister takes rapid action.
Mark Oliver, Jersey’s NEU President, said the union’s members were “concerned and angry” that Deputy Wickenden and Education Department staff “are unable to provide adequate mitigations that protect staff sufficiently in what is a period of huge uncertainty.”
They said the Minister should urgently consider reintroducing PCR testing for school direct contacts; face masks in the classrooms; and cancelling all non-essential face-to-face meetings and activities clubs, and assemblies.
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