24 September 2020
Over recent weeks, the Government has been closely monitoring the developing COVID-19 situation in Europe and the UK.
At the same time, we’ve used the summer to enhance our preparations for managing the virus during the coming winter months. I last gave an update on this at the end of August.
This hard work is essential to keeping Islanders safe and keeping Jersey in the favourable position we all currently enjoy.
We’ve looked at how we can protect the freedoms we’ve regained since April through our Safe Exit Framework. And we are planning how to avoid the type of second lockdown currently being enforced in other countries.
As I have said repeatedly, another lockdown would severely damage the health of Islanders and the health of our economy. It would cost lives and livelihoods.
In the Council of Ministers, we’ve been considering a package of preventative measures to keep cases low and stop clusters forming from these cases.
It is important that we begin to roll out these measures in the autumn, while cases are still low, so that we can stop them becoming clusters.
I know some Islanders will think this action is premature, given our current low case numbers.
But we’ve got ourselves into a favourable position by following sound medical advice and we must continue to do so.
It’s been a long time since you have heard me talk about a pandemic curve – and that’s because we don’t have one in Jersey. We flatlined it long ago. But look across the water at their graphs, and how quickly their infection curves are rising, together with rates of hospitalisation. That is what we could be dealing with. That is what we want to prevent.
And that is why we put in measures early. A smoke alarm fitted once the house is on fire is no use at all.
The measures that we are proposing are small changes to Islanders daily lives, and I would ask everyone to consider them in light of the impact of the global pandemic beyond our shores.
If we can all keep working together, can support the community and the most high-risk, then we will all get through this winter together.
To do so, the Government has dramatically increased our local testing capacity through the establishment of our dedicated on-Island facility.
We have enhanced our test, track and trace system so that it will be ready for the deployment of a mobile app.
And we have prepared a new public awareness campaign for flu and COVID-19 to make sure that when vaccines become available, Islanders know how they can access them.
Further on-Island prevention measures were discussed by the Council of Ministers, and we will be making detailed announcements about these next week.
One measure, which many of you will have already seen reported and discussed, is the wider use of protective masks in indoor public spaces, including supermarkets, shops and the library.
I want to be clear: this will not include wearing masks in workplaces.
And it will sit alongside further community testing and screening of frontline staff, and more targeted enforcement activity in the night-time economy and for those who should be isolating.
These small steps, that we believe will have a minimal time and physical impact on islanders lives, can have significant impacts on controlling and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Before we end this Press Conference, I’d like to extend my thanks to Dr Muscat, Dr Turnbull and all our medical professionals, to the officers working across Government departments, to parish officials, to Ministers and States Members, and to all Islanders for their collective efforts.
We’re in a more fortunate position than most jurisdictions, not only because of our geography, but also because of our economic resources, our PPE stocks and our testing capacity.
But most of all, thanks to the cooperation of Islanders who continue to prove their resilience and determination to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and to keep Jersey safe. co