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Government press conference statements 11 June 2020

Jun 11, 2020


Press Conference – Move to Level 2

11 June 2020


Chief Minister

Good Afternoon.

From Midnight, tonight, Jersey will enter Level 2 of our Safe Exit Framework, giving Islanders and businesses increased freedom as we move safely – and gradually – towards the ‘new normal’ of living with COVID-19.

This is a hugely positive step, and one possible only because of the continued cooperation of all Islanders in preventing the spread of Coronavirus in our community.

We currently have only 5 active cases of COVID-19 in the Island. 1 of these cases was found through our planned workforce screening , 2 were found following the patients seeking healthcare, and the final 2 were contact traced because of their physical proximity to other cases.

None of these cases involves a care home. In fact, the last case in an Island care home was recorded on 31 March, some 10 weeks ago.

Earlier this week, we also released detailed results of the second round of our Community Antibody Testing programme, which suggests 4.2% of Islanders – that’s approximately 4,500 people - have come into contact with COVID-19.

Of those who tested positive for antibodies, 62% had not experienced any symptoms.

All this testing has given us much more information about how COVID-19 has spread in Jersey, how it has impacted Islanders, and supports our move to the next Level of the Safe Exit Framework.

Level 2 is about being Safer Together.

And I would ask that everyone, whether working in a business or as a member of the public, continues to follow the health guidance – meaning we can progress steadily towards Level 1 and the ‘new normal.’

No one wants to return to Level 4. Increasing restrictions again will impact people's mental and physical health, their livelihoods, and our community.

A PHASED relaxation of our measures is better than a rapid return to a stricter lockdown.

Together, we must achieve a balance of becoming more social, gathering a little more, taking part in more activities, and beginning some connectivity off-Island WITHOUT triggering an upsurge of new Coronavirus infections.

As we all know, anyone can catch COVID-19 and anyone can spread it.

But we can ALL reduce the risk of doing this by remembering the 4 ‘Safer Principles’, which underpin our move to Level 2:

  • Safer hygiene
  • Safer at a distance
  • Safer in smaller groups
  • Safer outside

In practice, this means please keep washing your hands; avoid touching your face; catch your cough or sneeze in a tissue or your elbow; and clean surfaces regularly.

Keep a physical distance of 2 metres from anyone you don’t live with.

Continue keeping a smaller social circle than usual to help supress a possible outbreak of COVID-19.

And, if you meet up for social gatherings in private settings - such as parties, barbecues or informal get-togethers – these should be limited to a maximum of 20 people and only if you have the space to allow for that number while maintaining distancing

The risk of transmitting COVID-19 is greater indoors and especially over longer periods of time. There is less more room to physically distance inside - so, if you meet people or attend a gathering, you should do it outdoors where possible.

Managing the risk of COVID-19 when you’re at increased risk is not easy. To support islanders to make informed decisions about their individual situations, further advice will be published next week.

Once again we’re working with GPs and other health care professionals to disseminate the updated advice.

If you are in doubt about your individual situation, please seek advice from your doctor or health care professional.

As we enter Level 2 we will also move away from categorising people as ‘severely vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerable’.

We will instead use ‘high risk’ and ‘moderate risk’. This will align with the new advice and support islanders to balance the risks of potential exposure to infection, with the negative impacts of prolonged isolation on their mental health, mobility and general fitness.

In light of the very low levels of COVID-19 activity in Jersey, if you are at moderate risk you may return to work where it has been agreed with your employer that this can be done safely.

However, at this stage of the pandemic, Islanders should continue to work from home where possible.

High risk Islanders can undertake outdoor leisure or recreational activities, as long as they can physically distance from those they do not live with and follow other public health guidance such as regular hand washing.

High risk people should continue to undertake work from home where this is possible and going out to work is currently not recommended, unless - for example - they work alone and do not need to take public transport to travel to their work place.

I’ll now ask the Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Farnham, to set out more detail on the business sectors that are able to operate, with safety guidance, in Level 2.

Following that, we’ll ask the media for their questions.

For that portion of the Press Conference, we’ll be joined by Medical Director, Patrick Armstrong.


Deputy Chief Minister

Moving to Level 2 of our Safe Exit Framework is an important step forward for our community.

Nearly all businesses will be able to open and islanders will have access to more of the services and freedoms they enjoyed before the pandemic.

We are able to take this step because the medical advice tells us it is safe to do so. Of course, the wellbeing of islanders remains our overriding priority and Level 2 will enable us to strike a balance between necessary health precautions and providing more certainty for businesses - and more opportunities for people to get back to work.

To mitigate risks, there will be some new restrictions and guidelines for particular sectors.

From midnight tonight:

  • Jersey will be open for ‘staycations’. Detailed guidance has been provided to allow our hotels, B&Bs, self-catering accommodation, Jersey Heritage lets and campsites to welcome guests again.

I would encourage islanders to take advantage of this opportunity – not only will it provide a welcome rest and recuperation after lockdown, it will also be supporting our hospitality industry – which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

  • Restaurants and cafes will now be able to offer meals in their indoor as well as their outdoor seated food areas – with physical distancing measures in place.

Alcoholic drinks may be sold with meals, but an alcoholic drinks-only service is not permitted, at this stage.

  • Dental practices will be able to resume routine care as well as urgent treatment. Counselling and mental health services, and regulated allied healthcare professions – including chiropractors, physiotherapists, opticians and dieticians – can also open for business.

In all these services we are requesting that priority continues to be given to those most in need.

  • People can visit their hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons again. Piercing and tattoo parlours, laser and cosmetic clinics will also be able to reopen provided they follow the strict guidelines to keep customers safe.
  • There will welcome options for leisure activities across the island as Indoor venues such as libraries, museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres and arcades may now open, within guidelines.
  • The lockdown has highlighted the importance of sport and physical activity, so gyms will be able to open their doors again.
  • We are asking that indoor sports facilities are well ventilated and used for low intensity activities - owing to the risk of droplets spreading between people undertaking vigorous exercise in a confined space, even if they are well-spaced.
  • Higher intensity sports and fitness activities can be held outdoors, maintaining safe distance and following relevant guidelines.
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may open, but changing facilities are a higher risk environment and should remain closed.

So, Islanders are asked to ‘play and go’. This may require some additional planning and preparation but will allow access to these important facilities.

  • Public playgrounds, paddling pools, outdoor gyms and similar may also open - but you are strongly advised to clean equipment before and after use. All outdoor recreation may now open, subject to published guidelines including ensuring cleaning between uses.
  • Indoor businesses such as offices, warehouses, manufacturing and workshops are able to bring even more employees back to the workplace, beyond those simply considered essential.

We have also published updated guidance for work taking place outdoors and working in private homes. Cleaners, cooks, estate agents, internal building maintenance and home visits for hairdressing, for example, provided it can be done within the guidelines.

********

ALL businesses will have completed or updated their COVID-19 risk assessments and ensured that appropriate measures are in place before opening.

Where that activity takes place indoors, there will be greater requirements on businesses and the Islanders who use them.

You may notice changes that include being asked for your contact details, so that businesses can keep a record for contact tracing purposes.

You might be asked to wear protective equipment, such as a mask, or be served from behind a screen. These steps will help us move forward safely.

**********

Looking forward, the target for the move to Level 1 is currently early July subject, of course, to careful monitoring of the health risks.

We are also looking closely at reducing the physical distancing requirement from 2 metres to 1 metre.

We all want to see the last few businesses open as soon as possible – to help retain islanders’ livelihoods and jobs and to start the island on its recovery.

This can only happen with your continued forbearance.

I would also like to thank those businesses opening from tomorrow for their fortitude and resilience and for the huge amount of help they have given to help and enable officials to produce all of the relevant guidelines on time for opening from tomorrow.

Can I also pay tribute to all of the businesses and employees that have either remained working on the frontline throughout the pandemic, such as food stores and those other businesses have been enabled to open at a previous levels with a special mention for all of our retailers, large and small, who have strived to provide access to their shops, goods and services under the most difficult of circumstances. 

So please DO take advantage of the further opportunities and freedoms now available to all of us under Level 2.

Please do celebrate all that our local economy has to offer but please do so safely, to ensure that we continue to move forward, positively and confidently. 

Thank you.


Chief Minister

Throughout Level 2, we’ll continue to closely monitor the impact of easing restrictions on the spread of COVID-19, and the pace at which new measures are introduced will be based on the medical assessment of potential risks.

If - at any time - our public health monitoring indicates a rapid increase in cases, especially those requiring hospital care, the easing of measures may be suspended.

If absolutely necessary, a full lockdown could be re-imposed. 

There WILL be more changes as we move cautiously through the rest of Level 2, and towards Level 1 – and Islanders will see increased aspects of normal life returning.

This will be also be the last of our scheduled Press Conferences, as we move into a more normal routine of public engagement.

We’ll continue to provide critical updates to Islanders through the media, but these will happen as and when there are important announcements about our movement through the Safe Exit Framework.

I want to use this opportunity to say a sincere ‘Thank You’ to all Islanders for your continued patience, support and cooperation during this crisis. You have demonstrated the spirit and sense of community for which our Island is known – and have allowed us to progress so quickly to this good place.

To the media, thank you for your continued engagement – robust at times – but always with the aim of getting the public the information they need about how to stay safe.

To the telecom companies for promoting these Press Conferences, and to the technical team who have made them possible – you assistance has been invaluable.

To all the staff within the public sector – including in Health and community services, the contact and tracing teams, in public health, in policy, in the ports, policing and communications. Thank you. And a special, personal thanks to the team I work with on a daily basis.

You have all gone above and beyond to ensure the continued safety of our Island, and we all owe you a great debt of gratitude for the work you have done over these last months to tackle the spread of COVID.

Government of Jersey News Release.

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