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A small step for Jersey; a giant leap for islanders

A small step for Jersey; a giant leap for islanders

Friday 26 June 2020

A small step for Jersey; a giant leap for islanders

Friday 26 June 2020

Today is the day islanders can get closer to each other for the first time over three months. It's the day which may bring news of travel restrictions being lifted. It's the day grandparents can hug their grandchildren for the first time in weeks. It's the day islanders can look forward to pubs opening next week.

Today, the stipulation that you must stay at least two metres from your fellow islanders has been halved. It's a small step in terms of distance - but a big one for island life.

Announced yesterday at a government media briefing, restrictions on local hospitality businesses and construction sites have also eased.

Speaking at the briefing, Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré said: “This is a critical step towards returning to normal life and is only possible because of the way that islanders have followed the published health guidance and continue to act as a responsible community. 

“I would ask that everyone please respect the new changes and follow them carefully. There are still people in our community at high risk of covid-19 and we must protect them. This is a return to life not quite as usual. But by continuing to do some things differently, we can make sure as many people as possible enjoy the benefits.” 

The new guidance means that many more businesses will be able to open and islanders will be able to get closer, but what will that mean in terms of adjusting to what the Health Minister described as the “new normal”?

Express has answered some of the key questions arising from the announcement...

What has changed for islanders?

For individuals, the biggest change is that the minimum physical distance you have to keep from those not in your household has reduced from two metres to one metre. The Government has also advised that physical contact with a handful of people you don’t live with is also permitted – provided the risk category of the individuals, hygiene and consistency is taken into account.

Dr Susan Turnbull urged that islanders displaying any flu-like symptoms should not be having physical contact with anyone, and that the age and underlying health conditions of the individual should be taken into account.

What has changed for businesses?

For the hospitality sector, these new rules mean that they can serve people from multiple households on one table as long as they stay at least a metre away from one another.

Alcohol-only seated service will also be able to resume from next week (01 July), but nightclubs are not yet permitted to reopen.

Normal licensing regulations will resume, meaning that all hospitality businesses permitted to open can resume their regular closing times.

Construction sites no longer need to apply for special permits to continue work, as workers will be able to maintain this reduced physical distance more easily, but the requirement for risk assessment and plans to minimise transmission will continue to be monitored as part of Jersey’s Health and Safety protocol. 

Video: Watch the media briefing in full.

Why is it now safe to get closer?

The guidance has been amended due in part to the low level of known cases in the island. As there are less positive cases confirmed locally, the risk of transmission is deemed to be lower. The Health Minister has also said that islanders’ wellbeing was a factor in the decision-making process.

He said: “Maintaining physical distance from others remains a key way to limit the spread of covid-19. However, we recognise that many people want or need physical contact with others as part of a reasonable quality of life, and their wellbeing may suffer without that contact.

“While any increase in physical contact increases risk of exposure to covid-19, research shows that when people limit physical contact to a small number of other people, the risk of contracting the virus is significantly reduced.”

Dr Turnbull also explained that, if covid behaves like other respiratory infections it won’t spread as easily in the summer months and is killed by UV light.

Does this mean the pandemic is over?

No, there are still confirmed cases in the island and it’s possible that as well as going down levels, the Government could scale the lockdown measures back up as well.

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