Chief Minister Senator, John Le Fondré
Welcome to everyone who is watching on social media and listening on local radio.
I am joined today by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf and the Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham.
I want to start by saying that across the Liberation weekend Islanders once again demonstrated the community spirit and respect for one another that makes Jersey a wonderful place to live.
I also want to thank the States of Jersey Police and Honorary Police officers for their continued work in explaining and encouraging Islanders to abide by the Stay at Home instruction.
For every group of rule-breakers we saw congregating, we saw thousands staying home, or going out in their household groups and maintaining physical distance from others.
The worst behaviour will always be the most obvious and will rightly make us angry as we try to shield the vulnerable and do the right thing. But I can assure Islanders that we have done well. And as we carry on we must stay united.
Yesterday, the Minister for Health and Social Services signed a new series of Orders which mean that, from today, the Island will begin to move gradually through the Level 3 measures of our Safe Exit Framework.
This decision is based on the latest expert medical advice that Ministers have received.
That advice has reviewed the good position the Island is in, when looking at the number of active Coronavirus cases and our place on the infection curve.
That position has only been achieved because of the excellent cooperation we have received from Islanders in following the Stay at Home instruction and the health guidance that we have published.
I want to express, once again, my gratitude to all Islanders for your patience, diligence and understanding as we tackle the evolving challenges presented by this pandemic.
If you are watching this Press Conference on social media, listening on the Island’s radio stations or reading news reports: Thank you.
By moving into Level 3 today, we are ensuring that we carefully balance the need to protect Islanders’ physical and mental wellbeing with our continuing fight against the virus.
For now, Level 3 will STILL include a Stay at Home instruction, with Islanders only permitted outside of their homes for a maximum of six hours a day.
You MUST remain at home for the remaining eighteen hours.
Later in Level 3, if the spread of COVID-19 remains under control, these restrictions on personal movement will be further eased.
So, from today, the following changes apply:
You may be outside your home for up to six hours in total each day.
During that time, you can meet up to five people from outside your household, as long as you maintain physical distancing of two metres. That includes in your gardens but NOT in your homes.
Restaurants and cafés that can operate a physically-distanced outdoor seated food service will be allowed to open. Tables can only be shared by members of a single household.
Open air recreational sites – like the Zoo – can welcome visitors, excluding in their indoor enclosed areas. But you can still pass through these areas to enter and exit.
Large, non-essential shops, with a sales area of at least 700 square metres, are also able to reopen - provided they maintain two metre physical distancing.
Property viewings can also resume, and outdoor work can increase, in physically distanced groups of six, rather than two as previously.
Guidance is now available on gov.je for businesses and organisations in each of these sectors, affording detailed advice on opening and operating safely while the pandemic continues.
Finally, it is important to say that you are of course also permitted to travel work, whether that is work that has been categorised as essential to the running of the island during the pandemic, or other work that is now permitted – in restaurants, retail, and recreational sites and so on, as I have just listed.
I hope these new Level 3 measures will provide Islanders with the increased freedom necessary to meet family and friends, to buy non-essential goods and to enjoy some more normal aspects of day to day life.
But at all times ensuring they do so safely, and while shielding the most vulnerable among us.
I want to remind all Islanders that we will be closely monitoring daily testing data, as well as following the latest medical advice before taking any further steps to ease continuing restrictions.
And if we see indications of a rapid or steep increase in COVID-19 cases in Jersey, then we will have to pause our progress down the levels of the Safe Exit Framework, or may even need to return to stricter lockdown measures.
I know we all want to get back to some semblance of normality, but we must do this carefully.
A phased relaxation of such measures is better than a rapid return to stricter lockdown if matters were to go awry.
We all will have more options of things to do when outside our homes now.
But we must continue to adhere to the guidelines still in force. That includes maintaining strict two-metre physical distancing when outside the home and following strict personal hygiene measures. These are now more important than ever as we ease the restrictions.
We all have the power to bring the Island safely through this crisis, while keeping our vulnerable friends and family safe from harm.
Later this week we will also be making an announcement about the work we’ve begun on plans for the Island’s economic recovery.
This work will be essential to ensure the future prosperity of our community, and to protect the livelihoods of Islanders.
I’ll now ask the Minister for Health and Social Service, Deputy Richard Renouf, to speak about the Orders and their wider impact on Health and Community Services.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf:
Thank you, Chief Minister.
Firstly, I’d also like to offer my thanks to Islanders for the way you have approached the Stay at Home instruction, especially over the past weekend.
The vast majority celebrated Liberation Day divided by necessity, but united as a community. In doing so, you have kept one another safe, and protected our vital healthcare services.
As the Chief Minister said, yesterday I signed updated Orders to begin the phased and measured exit from Level 4 of our Safe Exit Framework based on the advice I received from the Medical Officer for Health.
She has advised me that we can begin the gradual movement through Level 3.
But her advice was clear that an amended Stay at Home instruction must remain part of the Order, at this stage.
This is a critical step in ensuring that we do not act too quickly to release all restrictive measures, resulting in possible risk of COVID-19 passing rapidly through our community.
I’m very clear that we WILL NOT rush into moves that could endanger the health of our most vulnerable Islanders.
From last week’s antibody study results, we know that only a small proportion – around three to four per cent – of the population has been infected with COVID-19.
Our PCR testing results show that, across the last week, only two new case of the virus have been recorded.
This shows our success in combating the spread of COVID-19 so far, but also proves that we must be careful when lifting restrictions, to make sure that we avoid a sudden or rapid outbreak of new cases.
Our Delay, Contain and Shield public health strategy has been focused on managing the spread of COVID-19 through our community and, most importantly, protecting those who are most at risk from severe harm if they contract the virus.
Under the changes being made today, people who are severely vulnerable because they are at much higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 – that’s those with serious underlying medical conditions and who have been contacted individually by their GP – are STILL advised to shield themselves.
People who are vulnerable to illness from COVID-19, so those with less severe medical conditions, who can take advantage of the changes are advised to be especially careful when outside the home.
This guidance no longer prescribes vulnerability based on age. So those who are aged over 65 are not, by default, part of this vulnerable group. But we strongly advise them to follow public health guidelines.
This is the first step on a journey that will take some time, and it is one that I want us to undertake responsibly, and as a community.
We must continue to protect Islanders and our finite health services by spending our time outside safely and shielding the severely vulnerable.
Only by doing so will we be able to balance controlling the spread of this virus with the important need to protect Islanders physical and mental health – which would be adversely affected by an extended lockdown.
We will monitor the situation closely over the coming days, and expert medical advice will guide any new relaxations through Level 3 and the times and dates that we progress through other Levels.
And, as the Chief Minister has said, if we find there is a rapid growth in the number of cases, then I am prepared to reimpose stricter measures to protect Islanders.
So please, continue to behave in a responsible and measured way, by following the health guidance. It is there to protect us all.
I’ll now pass over to the Deputy Chief Minister.
Minister for Economic Development, Senator Lyndon Farnham:
Thank you, Richard.
I know that many Island businesses are keen to begin reopening as we move in to Level 3 of the Safe Exit Framework.
I welcome the opportunities that the Health Minister has made within his Orders to allow increased business operation, while keeping Islanders safe and the most vulnerable in our community protected.
The changes being made will allow for trading in certain circumstances, providing two-metre physical distancing can be maintained and all hygiene, health and safety requirements are met.
Restaurants and cafés that can operate a physically-distanced outdoor ‘al-fresco’ seated food service will be allowed to open.
Initially, the larger, non-essential shops, with a sales area of over 700 square metres, are also able to reopen.
And to help get the property markets moving again Estate Agents will be able to operate under strict guidelines.
Open air recreational sites – such as the Zoo and some Heritage Sites – can also begin to welcome visitors again.
We have made available detailed safety guidance notes for all of the business sectors who have been permitted to open under Level 3, which starts today.
However, I know that many businesses will not fall into these categories and may feel frustrated that they cannot open just yet. These include Dental surgeries, the Hair and Beauty, and Health and Fitness sectors and smaller non-essential retail premises.
I want to reassure them all that we WILL allow further businesses to open just as soon as safely possible but, as we progress through the levels of the Safe Exit Framework, it is essential that we continue to base our decisions on sound medical advice that states when it is safe and proportionate to do so.
We need the whole economy to recover quickly when we are through the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Keeping businesses operational is critical to keeping people in jobs and preserving their livelihoods.
I want to reassure you once again that the Government is committed to supporting local jobs and businesses, and the schemes we have put in place are designed to support as many Islanders as possible.
Phase 1 of our Co-funded Payroll Scheme paid £2 million to almost 900 business, supporting 6,680 local jobs.
Phase 2 of the Scheme was launched on the 1 May, with £138 million available to support up to 27,000 local jobs.
The scope of this Phase is more extensive than the first and will run until at least 30 June 2020 and is budgeted to run until the 30th August if necessary.
To date, over one thousand businesses have already submitted applications for Phase 2 support.
Our Business Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme has so far seen 15 loans approved, totalling £754,000 and further applications are currently being considered by our local banks.
Of course, we have known from the start of the outbreak that different kinds of support would be needed as the COVID-19 outbreak developed and now that the initial emergency support is in place, we are considering our next steps. Further measures are being planned to ensure continued support for business throughout the pandemic and in to the future.
Later this week we will be setting out details of the political framework which will lead the economic recovery. This will include political oversight by Ministers, and an Economic Council, which will be chaired by myself.
As a result of the past few weeks, I think we now know - more clearly than ever - that our health and wellbeing are linked to a strong, healthy economy. Keeping people in work, providing stable finances for the Island and every household, is essential.
This principle has been guiding us as we work through the pandemic together. It is vitally important that we continue to support each other and build confidence as we gradually reopen the economy.
To finish, I just wanted to record that I have been particularly impressed with care offered by many Island businesses to their employees during the lockdown – and also by the dedication shown by many employees.
We have seen some brilliant examples of flexibility, co-operation and problem solving. This has led to some new, innovative working practices that have played a key role in the survival of business and the protection of jobs.
So I would like to thank employees and employers for supporting each other. And I would also like to thank the wider community for being resilient, adaptable, patient and for recognising that we can find solutions together.
Government of Jersey News Release.