Source: Channel Islands – Jersey
The Government has released its framework for a phased and gradual lifting of the lockdown restrictions. The various measures will only be phased out when medical advice says it is safe to do so. This advice will be underpinned by the upscaled testing and contact-tracing programme announced yesterday.
Since schools were closed and the Stay Home instruction was announced on 30 March, Jersey has been in lockdown to contain the risk of COVID-19 spreading throughout the population. The primary aim of Government has been to reduce the impact of the pandemic by delaying its spread, containing cases where they have occurred and shielding vulnerable people from it through home isolation.
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said: “Jersey’s lockdown measures have been less extreme than in some other jurisdictions, but they have significantly affected our daily lives, our children’s education and many hundreds of Island businesses. By following the Stay at Home guidance, we have successfully suppressed the spread of COVID-19. This has created vital time for our health and care services to prepare for the increase in cases that will inevitably come.
“Our public health data and monitoring indicate that we may soon be able to begin to ease the lockdown measures. We must do this gradually, because it is likely that most people in Jersey have not yet had COVID-19. As we begin to ease the measures, people will meet others outside their households, infection rates will rise, and some will need hospital care.
“So our approach will be careful, it will be staged, and we will need to meet strict criteria before we can move to the next level of lockdown.”
There are four levels to the framework, with the current restrictions identified as Level Four. Restrictions will be relaxed gradually until reaching Level One, which will still require physical distancing. Large gatherings carry significant risk and will not be permitted until the end of the framework is reached. Physical distancing and good hygiene will be fundamental through every level.
The Health and Social Services Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: “Thanks to Islanders adhering to the ‘Stay Home’ instruction we have delayed the spread of the virus and given our healthcare services valuable time to prepare. We have made substantial investments in PPE and ventilators, brought the Island’s GPs into Health and Community Services, and have increased our capacity by constructing a temporary Nightingale ward.
“All of this has allowed us to consider easing the lockdown. The safe exit framework depends on advice from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) and will be gradually implemented under constant monitoring. A programme of testing and contact-tracing will track any outbreaks of the virus when they arise and shielding arrangements for the most vulnerable will still need to remain in place.
“We will move as quickly as we safely can, because we recognise the need for families, communities and businesses to return to a more normal life as soon as possible. But we must avoid overloading our health and care services. So we will only move through each level sensibly, when we have a clear view of how COVID-19 is spreading across Jersey, and of the pressures health and care services are under. This is the only way we can take the necessary steps to a more normal way of life, while the pandemic persists.”
The measures in each level will be updated in light of developing international scientific understanding of COVID-19, the effectiveness of control measures both here and overseas, and the progress of the infection in the Island. The timing of movements between each level will depend on the spread of the virus, and the STAC will provide advice when Ministers are considering when to enter a new level of the exit framework. There is no guarantee that all the measures in any given level will be eased on entry, and some measures will be delayed until a later date if necessary.
Jersey’s response to this pandemic will continue to be informed by advice from the World Health Organisation, European and American Centres for Disease Control and Public Health England.