06 November 2020
Yesterday evening we reported 97 active cases of Coronavirus in Jersey.
Today, we expect that number to pass 100 for the first time since the first wave.
While there are fortunately no cases in the hospital, this is a critical point for our Island and one where it is essential that we lay out the risks for Islanders if we do not change our behaviour.
We do have excellent test and trace capability, but it is not unlimited, and cannot do the whole job of keeping everyone safe. We all have a part to play as a community.
The measures we have implemented so far have supressed the spread of the virus, but they cannot hold it at bay completely.
And following the summer, it is fair to say, many Islanders have become far too relaxed in their compliance with public health guidance.
As a result, in the last weeks we have seen growth in the number of active cases – not limited to arriving travellers, which due to our travel restrictions are getting smaller and smaller and are mainly now Islanders returning home.
The growth in numbers is increasingly pockets of community transmission in Jersey - either being found through people seeking healthcare or through contact tracing from existing cases.
I want to stress that we are not talking about an outbreak or an epidemic in the Island.
But we must take all possible steps NOW to prevent further spread.
If we do not, then we face the real possibility of having to introduce stricter measures that will limit Islanders’ freedoms and pose risks to their mental health and their livelihoods.
To ensure we that do not have to take this drastic path will require your cooperation, your commitment, and your strict adherence to public health guidance.
Young people are having significant impact on the growing spread of COVID-19 within our community.
We know through our interviews during the contact tracing process that physical contact between friends, between boyfriends and girlfriends, and the sharing of drinks and vapes, is leading to the spread of the virus among younger and asymptomatic carriers.
We are now seeing cases that we can trace back to Halloween parties and this is particularly troubling, given the number of warnings we issued about keeping safe during that holiday.
I want to address all young people in Jersey directly and say simply and starkly:
You can catch COVID-19 and if you do, you will spread it to your friends and family.
You may not have symptoms, but you could infect someone that will.
While your lives may not be at high risk from COVID-19, that of your family, and especially your older relatives is.
Please think how devastating it would be for you, and your family, if you were to infect your grandmother or grandfather and, worse still, lead to their deaths.
And I know many parents will be watching today and I hope they will impress on this important message to their own children, as I have to mine.
Individual responsibility is key and you will know how your family interacts with one another. The virus is in the Island and it could be in your family.
While many will change their behaviour and act sensibly, we know that some will not - which is why we have introduced and used enforcement powers.
We ARE aware of house parties that have taken place, we ARE aware of beach parties that are planned.
We will be monitoring and acting when they are putting our Island at risk.
So please follow the guidelines, especially this weekend, when you might be hosting or attending Bonfire Night parties. That means an absolute maximum of 20 people at social gatherings with physical distancing of 1 metre closely adhered to.
I want us to avoid draconian measures. We will not re-introduce any restrictions lightly. But we will act swiftly and in a targeted way if necessary.
Next week, Ministers will be discussing a revised package of public health measures that will allow us to increase the pressure on the spread of the virus in our community.
And, over the last week, the States of Jersey Police have been visiting every premises serving food and drink on the Island, ensuring they are complying with social distancing and contact tracing requirements.
Many were behaving excellently. Some were not.
We will be requiring those who aren’t up to scratch to improve their practices and reviewing their performance.
But it requires a commitment from all of us, when going out to eat and drink, to ensure we are following public health guidance – by checking in using the QR codes provided, recording who we are with, and using the COVID Alert app.
And if you’re not asked to check in, or no QR code is displayed, then please insist that your details are taken for contact tracing.
This is how we behave as a community and keep one-another safe.
If we don’t change our behaviour, then our case numbers will increase and we face the real possibility of ending up in a lockdown. Just like the UK moved into yesterday and France moved into earlier than that.
This is NOT a position that any Islanders want to be in. Where we risk being unable to see friends and family over the Christmas period.
So we MUST work together to protect our community, and the freedoms we’ve worked so hard to keep.
And we must do it NOW.
Dr Muscat's presentation from the press conference