Lifeline air services between Jersey and the UK have been ensured, and additional measures introduced, to allow the movement of essential travellers while minimising the potential cross-border spread of COVID-19.
The Government of Jersey has finalised a contract with Blue Islands to charter regular and reliable flights to and from Southampton, ensuring that people are able to travel on urgent compassionate grounds; for essential medical treatment; for work which is critical to the safe-running of the Island; or in order to return to their permanent home.
Blue Islands’ Chief Executive Officer, Rob Veron, said: “We are proud to work with the Government of Jersey to ensure the provision of essential lifeline services between Jersey and the UK during these unprecedented times.”
From Monday, 20 April, until further notice, three rotations will be flown each week, although services will be adaptable in response to demand. Passengers will be charged £100 per leg, and the Government subsidy to ensure the service operates is expected to cost £15,000 per week.
The Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport, and Culture, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “It’s evident that routes are not commercially viable for any airline to operate in the current climate, but Jersey requires a lifeline so the Government has underwritten this service.
“For a small number of people, travel will be absolutely essential, and this agreement is already making a positive difference to Island life. We have already supported more than 75 Islanders, who were stranded overseas, to return home on Government-chartered flights which have also been used to transport essential medical supplies and construction workers vital for building Jersey’s new Nightingale Hospital.”
Booking, via BlueIslands.com, is only possible after a travel authorisation and health declaration form has been approved by the Jersey Customs & Immigration Service (JCIS). When submitting it, people are expected to explain how their travel fits into the criteria of essential travel, and to confirm that they have no COVID-19 symptoms.
In addition to the Blue Islands service, all other commercial sea and air routes, and private aircraft, are now only permitted to travel if they have prior authorisation. JCIS is monitoring all inbound and outbound passengers, and enforcing self-isolation for anyone who presents as symptomatic; Ports of Jersey is only granting permission to fly or berth following JCIS pre-authorisation.
The travel authorisation and health declaration form is available on blueislands.com, and all private aircraft and boats are asked to contact JCIS on firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the form.
Senator Farnham said: “We hope that our shared objective of limiting the spread of coronavirus by limiting travel can be achieved through collective compliance and friendly advice and guidance, but JCIS will continue to meet all inbound and outbound passengers, and all travellers should be prepared to provide proof of justification for essential travel. Passengers who do not meet the essential travel criteria will be denied travel.”
Government of Jersey News Release.