After the final steps in Jersey’s covid reconnection plan were delayed again yesterday, the hospitality industry is calling for a review of isolation rules to deal with the high number of staff being caught in the tracing net.
Simon Soar, Chief Executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, had this to say…
I wrote a letter today to the Health Minister. In the letter I expressed my concerns about a new threat to island businesses, particularly those in my industry.
If you can imagine what it has been like for the last year and a half not knowing whether you will have enough money to keep your loyal and hardworking staff on the payroll, or not knowing whether all the money you have sunk into your business will be lost, you will have an idea of what many businesses in Jersey are going through every day.
But what is particularly difficult is how the move to Stage 7 has been handled. It’s like dangling a carrot in front of the hospitality industry, but cruelly snatching it away at the last moment. It has happened again this week as Ministers say they want to delay for a bit longer to ensure as many people are vaccinated as possible.
Of course, we applaud the amazing vaccination programme which has seen so many islanders fully jabbed, but it is becoming a double-edged sword at the moment. Hence the letter to the Health Minister.
Pictured: The vaccination programme has become "a double-edged sword", according to Mr Soar.
It is great news that so many people have had both vaccinations, but with the rules as they are, plus a rise in cases, some businesses are being forced to close or limit their service because their staff have been contact traced.
It is not just school children who have been forced to isolate. When one or two members of a restaurant team are told they can’t go to work, that has an immediate effect on a customer facing business.
It is perhaps ironic that while the hospitality industry is busy making sure our customers follow the rules that it’s our people that are the ones caught in the isolation net.
There is no additional support if a business is closed from contact tracing. Businesses are trying their hardest to improve their financial situation to get through the rest of the year and to next summer when hopefully we can regrow and rebuild on island.
That is why we would like to see isolation periods reviewed as quickly as possible. A minimum of five days might help, but it would be better for all concerned if after a day 0 test that comes back negative, they can be released with the usual further tests on day 5 and 10.
Despite the number of cases, Jersey is in a good place with a good take up by islanders of the vaccination programme.
Like most others, we dearly hope there will be a return to some semblance of normality soon and with such a strong vaccination programme protecting vulnerable people, we need to understand the rationale the government are using to continue with these restrictions on people’s lives and on the existence of many businesses.
We are in a position where we need to get to learn to live with covid-19. The constant changes and delays are causing nothing but problems. We should be taking this time to review the contact tracing system as it places more risk on businesses when people who are not vulnerable are being forced to isolate because they have not had the opportunity to get vaccinated.