Yesterday the States Assembly approved new Regulations that reinforce the importance, for all of us, of maintaining safe physical distance to reduce the spread of Coronavirus in our community.
Those Regulations mean that if you meet in public with anyone from outside your household, and you don’t observe two metres physical distance, then you are liable to be fined up to £1,000 if you ignore the request of a Police Officer to move to a safe distance.
We brought these Regulations to give the Police the necessary powers to enforce safe distancing for the very, very small number of Islanders who choose to ignore this critical preventative measure.
I’m sure that these powers will only be used very sparingly, if at all, because Islanders realise that it is their continuing responsibility to keep each other safe from the spread of COVID-19, and will continue following the expert health advice.
And I want to answer a question that a lot of Islanders have been asking.
These Regulations apply only to people meeting in public.
You will not be prosecuted if you enter other people’s homes and are less than two metres apart. But we continue to advise you strongly not to go into other people’s homes unless absolutely necessary, and then to continue to observe physical distancing.
It is a matter of personal responsibility.
That is the critical message I want everyone to take away from this press conference.
Our responsibility to protect our community should always be at the forefront of our minds. It is the balance that must be in place as we ease the restrictive lockdown measures and restore a sense of normality to our lives.
The Stay at Home instruction is no longer in place. There is no longer a legal limit on the amount of time you can spend outside your home and no restriction on the reasons for being outside of your home. But there is still an ongoing risk of the virus spreading. We cannot, and must not, think that the risk to our community has disappeared.
Our essential public health advice for individuals and families remains in place.
So please, stay two metres apart from anyone you don’t live with, wherever possible.
Think carefully about whether to allow people inside your own home, and whether to enter others’ homes, because the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is greater indoors.
And, I’m sorry, especially to younger members of our community who I know would be enjoying half term this week but parties or gatherings inside homes remain strongly discouraged.
You can socially meet up to five people you don’t live with on any day. But if you do, you are strongly encouraged do so outside where transmission risk is lower.
And, as we have said since day one: wash your hands regularly; catch coughs or sneezes in a tissue or your elbow; and keep surfaces clean.
If you have flu-like symptoms, stay or go home immediately and call the Helpline on 445566. We must also continue to protect those with high risk medical conditions who are most severely vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, and the vulnerable with underlying medical conditions.
They are advised to remain extra vigilant, and to make a personal choice about the extent to which they wish to continue to shield from becoming infected, by staying at home and limiting physical contact.
They can helpfully seek medical advice about balancing risk from their GPs, and Health and Community Services.
I want to say thank you, again, to all Islanders, for your patience, your diligence and your cooperation.
We simply would not be in such a good position without your efforts to keep this dreadful virus from spreading within our community. It is a credit to all of you that we have reached this stage.
The Chief Minister continues:
Over the coming days, the Council of Ministers will consider how we will continue moving through the Levels of our Safe Exit Framework, led by expert medical advice from STAC.
The Minister for Education announced yesterday that Schools will open to certain year groups from 8 June and that nurseries will be able to welcome back a set number of children into bubbles.
Dentists will be permitted to open from Monday, providing essential treatment that so many Islanders need. And, as we progress through Level 3, and look to move to Level 2, more aspects of normal life will begin to return.
But to do so, we must remain vigilant, follow the latest health advice, and work together to protect one another. Before I take questions, I would like to make one final point about a troubling matter that has arisen over the last few weeks, as people have begun to take advantage of more time outside.
Litter, glass and hot BBQs are being left on our beaches and in our countryside. Not only are they unsightly, but they pose a significant risk to children and pets, and may cause wildfires.
We are privileged to live on this Island. And with that privilege comes responsibility.
Please respect our Island. Keep it clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.
Chief Minister Summing Up:
Thank you to the media for your questions, and to all those who have watched and listened at home.
Please continue to respect the health advice over this weekend, and to follow physical distancing of at least 2 metres while you enjoy the sunshine.
Thank you, and please enjoy your weekend.
Government of Jersey News Release.