Good evening, in anticipation of an announcement by the UK Prime Minister of further restrictions, I wish to assure Islanders that we are not in the same position as the United Kingdom.
We will continue to follow the advice of our medics here in Jersey, many of whom convened today in the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC).
We are seeing only a very small number of people come through our borders, and all must isolate for at least 10 days when arriving, given the prevalence in the UK. But we will ensure that Islanders can continue to travel to the UK for medical treatment, and we won’t leave any Islander stranded in the UK following what could be a strict lockdown there.
STAC will meet again tomorrow to discuss our ongoing decrease in active cases and the enhanced measures we have proposed for the return of school children to the classroom. As scientists, they will be looking for concrete trends before providing Ministers with policy options and advice on when we can open non-essential retail, contact services (like hair and beauty), indoor recreation, hospitality, and gyms.
The Competent Authority Ministers will meet later this week to weigh up all the available information; receive a progress update on the vaccination programme; and make sure we continue to reduce overall harm and bear down on the virus.
We are seeing a drop in the rate of positive cases in our community, but we must take a cautious approach and must not be complacent. We do not know for certain if the new variant is in the Island; but if we presume it is then we will be in the best place to suppress it if we get that confirmation from the UK labs.
While fewer people are calling the helpline to report symptoms or seek healthcare, we have increased our workforce testing to test as high a proportion of the Island as is possible. This will give us the best intelligence on the rate of community spread.
Our goal remains, above all, to protect the health and wellbeing of our whole community. We want to do this while avoiding blanket restrictions like lockdowns, which impact disproportionately on Islanders' mental health, job security and social interaction. This means we need to continue acting responsibly, wear masks in indoor public spaces, ensure good physical distancing and comply with all regulations – including, most importantly, not having household gatherings.
We will make any announcements on changes to our current approach as soon as possible. In the meantime, I want to thank Islanders for their ongoing resolve.
Senator John Le Fondré