Statement from Jennifer Carnegie
President of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce
18th May 2020 Embargo: 10:00
Jersey has thankfully had a relatively easy time so far in this global pandemic. There have of course been genuine tragedies which have been a terrible shock for some. Our healthcare service has coped well despite our worst fears, and the Government has provided responsive economic support.
That said, we have probably done the easier bit of the Covid challenge, because the future remains no less uncertain. And we have to find a path out of lockdown without a vaccine and without a full world-wide testing capability. This means that we are likely to be managing the effects of Covid, human, social, economic and financial for many months if not years, so the need to act despite this uncertainty must start now.
Society has become increasingly sophisticated over the generations, especially at managing risk. We have extensive regulation, stringent laws, a keen sense of health and safety and a near risk-free environment in which to work, play and bring up our children. Risk assessments are mandatory, and they are undoubtedly preventing numerous forms of harm that in former times would have been seen as acceptable risks. In short, we are a very risk averse society, and we see this as a human right.
The nature of crises is that they catch us unawares and force us into a crouch - in this case a lockdown - to manage the immediate risks they bring. Whilst we remain in lockdown we are vulnerable, and we need to get moving and generate some momentum towards a better situation. The options for getting out of any lockdown will usually involve taking calculated risks - the very thing that society has been preparing us to avoid. We need to find the inner resolve to change our habits and take calculated risks to avoid the possibility of an even deeper crisis.
Jersey is at this inflexion point now. The sorts of risks we must understand and be prepared to manage involve reopening schools, reopening businesses whilst enforcing physical distancing, restarting travel in a controlled fashion, and allowing a controlled return to social life including cafes, restaurant, hotels and eventually gyms, hairdressers and pubs. A vaccine may not arrive any time soon, so we must summon the courage to carefully begin these steps now.