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Jersey plans cautious exit from 'lockdown lite'

Jersey plans cautious exit from 'lockdown lite'

Thursday 07 January 2021

Jersey plans cautious exit from 'lockdown lite'


Ministers have set out the cautious, gradual steps they will take to return Jersey to normal life, as case numbers fall from the pre-Christmas peak and more islanders are vaccinated - but it could mean no hospitality openings or household mixing until around Easter.

Under the plan, Ministers will consider lifting restrictions at two week intervals to allow them time to assess the impact of each measure.

The first phase will see schools return on Monday, with new measures in place and all students in years 11, 12 and 13 being tested every week.

Non-essential shops and museums currently closed could reopen on 25 January if cases continue to fall, as well as close contact services (e.g. the beauty industry), as they have been assessed as having a lower risk of transmission due to the level of PPE worn and existing hygiene procedures in place.

Covid reconnection lockdown

Pictured: the priority order for the different covid measures, and the order in which they are likely to the relaxed.

However, Ministers first want to see if there is a rise in cases caused by households being allowed to mix on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. They also want to analyse the impact of any gatherings - against the strong advice of Government - on New Year.

So far, public health officials say they have detected around a dozen cases linked with festive gatherings.

With the Government’s strategy based on “the first measures imposed will be the last ones lifted”, cafés, bars and restaurants will face a longer wait. It is likely to be around March or even Easter time - by which point the Government aims to have given most islanders aged 50 upwards at least their first dose - that they will open up.

The rules on physical distancing and social gatherings are expected to be among the final few to ease.

Covid reconnection stages lockdown

Pictured: the provisional time-table for opening up the island again.

At a press conference on Thursday, Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré said: “As a result of the extensive progress in vaccination, testing, travel, and enforcement we are in a position where we can prioritise students returning to school from next week, supported by a bespoke testing programme which includes weekly testing for teachers and pupils in years 11 to 13.

“Putting children first remains our top priority, and we need to give students the time to settle comfortably back into school, and to have the best possible protections in place for them.

“This will include updated risk assessment taking place across nurseries, schools and colleges, improved contact tracing arrangements for schools, and all arrangements for pupils kept under regular review. This will be the first step in our gradual process to reconnect the economy and return Islanders to normal life.

“But this must be done safely and step-by-step, giving the necessary time to assess the impact of relaxing measures on the spread of the virus.

“It will not be achieved by rushing, by becoming complacent, or by taking actions which risk our safety, our high-risk islanders or our health service.

“I want us to be in the strongest possible position as we take each step, so that islanders and businesses can return to normality with confidence, and that we can look to a year where we can gather, work, live and celebrate as a community once again.”

Reacting to the exit strategy, hospitality bosses have urged the Government to provide clearer timelines of when they can expect to open up.

Simon Soar, CEO of the Jersey Hospitality Association, said: “While it is very difficult to keep businesses closed and unable to trade, as we have done since the start of December, decisions have to be made to protect islanders. 

"With this latest extension to the measures restricting businesses from opening, we will continue our dialogue with the Government to push for more support to allow our businesses to survive as it is likely many will remain closed for the first quarter of this year."

simonsoar.jpg

Pictured: JHA's CEO said a "key" issue for the industry was to be provided with a "clear timelines" for reopening.

He continued: "Since the start of the pandemic, hospitality has effectively been closed for six out of twelve months with the extended restrictions announced today. When allowed to open, businesses were only able to operate at reduced levels. 

"The key point for us at this stage is to get clear timelines so that we can understand when and how we will be able to re-open.  

"This is not just about the restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, events and attractions. We must also remember the wholesalers that we rely on who have lost significant amounts of stock through the closure periods.  

"We will continue our discussions with the government and press home the importance that the good quality of life that many islanders enjoy, is provided by a thriving hospitality industry.” 

WATCH: A press conference on the 'reconnection' strategy...

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Comments

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Posted by gordon le claire on
why not keep the restrictions in until everybody has had the vaccine then anybody who refused to have it without good reason i.e. due to health issues will be kept on the restrictions.
Posted by Danny Moisan on
it is ridiculous for the government to presume that all 105k residents will want to be vaccinated against a virus with a 99.5% recovery rate, they definitely are blinkered to the large wave of concern over the validity and long term safety of a vaccine that was rolled out in record time.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
My big concern is that too many people will not take the vaccine when offered to them. It is essential for the benefit of ALL on this Island that high percentage take up is achieved.
IF Jersey can do this, the Island still can have a good 202 and a better 2022.
BUT ministers' stick to your plan and DONT open up too quickly.
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