We are reaching the end of the first full week in our progress through Level 3 of the Safe Exit Framework - from a state of lockdown to one where we are safely and proportionately increasing Islanders freedoms.
It is a strategy that protects our severely vulnerable Islanders from the harm of COVID-19.
It is a strategy that protects Islanders mental and physical health.
It is a strategy that protects livelihoods by keeping our businesses viable and people in jobs.
And it is a strategy that is working.
Yesterday, Statistics Jersey published our “R rate”, otherwise known as the rate of infection reproduction.
The latest results indicate that our R rate is much closer to zero than one, at approximately 0.4.
In layman’s terms, this means every person with COVID-19 is infecting less than one other person.
In the last 7 days, only 3 new cases of the virus have been detected.
This is strong position to be in – and it is thanks to islanders’ efforts in following the health guidance.
The move through Level 3 has had an immediate, positive effect on various aspects of our community life.
For many islanders who live in smaller properties and have been isolating on their own, or have had no access to outdoor space, the changes have given much needed freedom - which is essential for our mental health and wellbeing.
The move through Level 3 has allowed some of our larger retailers to re-open, getting their employees back to work and giving Islanders access to much-needed products and services.
This is an important first step in ensuring that our economy is prepared for the post-pandemic recovery that will come.
I’m pleased to announce that from next Monday, 18th May, ALL retailers can begin to re-open their premises, as long as they can ensure that physical distancing of 2-metres can be maintained.
The decision to allow all retailers to open has been taken as a result of the expert medical advice that underpins all of our decision making.
And we are now looking at the next groups of businesses that will be able to reopen. These include dental practices, hair and beauty, health and fitness. We are in consultation with these sectors and guidelines are being prepared right now for their safe and proportionate reopening.
As we look to the future, I’m pleased to be starting the work to build a new Economic Council, which will lead work on our recovery.
The group will be composed of respected, leading community figures from within the Jersey community, supported by high level economic advice with access to worldwide data and policy formulation.
Across our economy, we’re continuing to support local businesses and their employees through the largest economic package ever assembled.
The second phase of our Co-Funded Payroll Scheme has paid out £15 million so far to protect islanders’ jobs.
That scheme builds upon Phase 1 and will run until June.
There is scope, and funding, to extend the scheme to the end of August should disruption caused by COVID-19 continue.
We are acutely conscious of the possibility of a “cliff-edge” occurring when the Payroll Scheme is eventually withdrawn.
I want to reassure our Islanders and businesses that we will provide ongoing fiscal support to those worst-hit sectors right through the pandemic and into the future economic recovery period.
Officials are currently working to assess the best ways to mitigate the risk – protecting businesses who may be most vulnerable.
Senator Gorst, with the support of the Treasury Minister, signed a Ministerial Decision this week to amend the application criteria for the Business Disruption Loan Support Scheme.
ALL local businesses, regardless of their business activity or sector, will now be eligible for the scheme.
And Information will be published shortly on gov.je for those businesses who now wish to apply.
Our economy, our physical and mental health, and our cohesion as a community are intrinsically linked.
As I’ve said repeatedly, keeping people in work, providing stable finances for the Island and every household, is essential to Islanders’ long term mental and physical health.
Ensuring the well-being of one part of our community has an extremely positive impact on the other.
But, there is still some distance to go.
We have started this journey together and I am confident that with the cooperation of Islanders, we will finish it together - having done all we can to protect the vulnerable members of our community, and ensure we return to a strong economy that supports and protects us all.
So please keep following the guidance that has been put in place.
Continue physically distancing. Continue following the hygiene guidelines.
Do that, and we will come through this crisis, together, and even stronger as a community.
I will now hand over to Senator Gorst.
Government of Jersey News.