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No measures before Christmas "for wellbeing reasons"

No measures before Christmas

Thursday 16 December 2021

No measures before Christmas "for wellbeing reasons"

Thursday 16 December 2021

Covid restrictions have not been brought in before Christmas “for the wellbeing of the community”, the Chief Minister has said.

After announcing that a number of measures – including mandatory mask-wearing in indoor public spaces and a recommendation that people work from home – would come in after the New Year, Senator Le Fondré said that they were not needed “right now”, based on the current understanding of the Omicron variant.

However, he said the Government was following developments “very, very closely”.

Mandatory mask-wearing has not been introduced straight away because a legally water-tight order needed to be drafted and signed, he added.

Facing a period of questions by States Members, the Chief Minister was asked why the measures weren’t coming in sooner.

Border Testing.jpg

Pictured: Passengers who have not had a booster jab could require a PCR test earlier than 4 January if it becomes logistically possible, the Chief Minister said.

“Let’s go back to last year,” he replied. “At Christmas, if you recall, we basically had no vaccination, numbers were just starting to fall before Christmas Eve, and at that point we put in measures where people could only meet on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“There were pressures from various parts of the island saying we should be able to meet on Christmas Eve or other iterations around that.

“The point is, [despite] all the actions we have, which may be logical and sensible to an individual in the Assembly, there will be a proportion of the community that fundamentally don’t agree with it. 

“It is taking those balance of risks together. Christmas is a special time. It will be the second Christmas of living with covid and therefore it is about families coming together in as easy and unpressurised way as possible. 

“It is ultimately about the wellbeing of the community. The least complexities we have around, that is important. 

“If we closed St. Helier down today, there would be an economic impact, which adds stress to people in employment and small business owners.

“The schools are breaking up on Friday, and numbers are coming down in schools. It is likely, therefore, there will be less mixing, other than parties, starting from next week, and that is where we urge people to use lateral flow tests. 

“There is an expectation over Christmas that, other than the celebratory side, things should dampen down, in terms of mixing. 

“That is why I think, at this stage, 4 January is proportionate. We will keep monitoring this very, very closely.”

The Chief Minister, however, added that testing people at the borders who have not been 'triple jabbed' – requiring that they have to isolate until a negative PCR test – may be brought in before the 4 January if the personnel and systems can be ready earlier.

He added that obligatory mask-wearing in shops and other indoor public spaces could not come in immediately as it required an official order to be signed.

He said: “There is a legal process and we have had the risk of legal challenges in the past. 

“Instructions have been given in the past without legal backing: you could do it once or twice at the beginning of the pandemic but there will always be a sector of the population who won’t agree with what one is trying to do. Therefore, that legal test has to be met.”


WATCH: New measures as Jersey braces for "large" Omicron wave

GUERNSEY: "Have yourself a satisfactory Christmas"

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