14 August 2020
I’m very pleased to be joined today by Dr Ivan Muscat, the Deputy Medical Officer for Health.
Today we are here to provide Islanders with an update on our position as we continue to steer Jersey through the COVID-19 pandemic.
As announced last week, we are now in the earliest phase of Level 1 of our Safe Exit Framework.
This is the right time for us to pause, and to ensure that we are continuing to suppress the spread of Coronavirus in our community.
While we have a very low number of active cases, the easing of measures means that there is an increased risk of the virus spreading if we do not remain vigilant and follow the latest public health advice.
That is why testing, contact tracing and maintaining proper physical distancing is essential if we want to continue enjoying the freedoms we have all worked so hard to regain.
I am pleased to report that Jersey continues to act in an exemplary way in terms of testing and contact tracing.
This is evident from the positive reviews and feedback of passengers who have experienced the process at our Ports and from the recognition received in the international media.
In the last fortnight, only 12 new cases of Coronavirus have been identified out of 14,000 tests. Of the active cases only 3 are symptomatic and 8 are asymptomatic.
And it is important to recognise that the vast majority of cases are from those tested at the border.
This means that Covid-19 is not seeding or growing within our own community.
Our traffic light system is also ensuring that Islanders are taking the right precautions when travelling abroad and enjoying the opportunities that our Safer Travel policy allows.
Islanders do need to remain vigilant and ensure that if they are travelling soon, they are keeping a close eye on the advice published on gov.je.
From Midnight last night Gibraltar and all of the Balearic Islands – that includes Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza – have been moved to the Amber list of countries.
So, if you are travelling on holiday to those places, please remember that you must now isolate on return, with a PCR test on day 0 and day 5.
To ensure we remain at the forefront of testing, I’m pleased to announce that our on-Island testing laboratory has now arrived in Jersey.
This facility will be located at the Jersey Aero Club car park.
Currently, most tests are processed off-Island, which means results take between 24 and 48 hours.
Once fully operational, the on-Island testing laboratory will be able to process in the region of 2,000 tests each day and provide results within 12 hours, on average.
The increased testing capability, provided by the new lab, will also allow us to improve the speed of the contact tracing process.
Over the next few weeks, our new lab will be commissioned, tested and validated before it comes into use in early September.
It has now been 56 days since a person was receiving hospital care because of COVID-19. But we cannot be complacent.
Yesterday the Health Minister agreed to an extension of the lease of the Nightingale Wing, allowing Government to keep that facility in place until the end of March 2021.
This is part of our ongoing COVID response strategy and will ensure that Jersey remains prepared for any significant increase in the spread of the virus, if it were to occur over the winter months.
But as a community we can ensure we minimise the risk and impact on our Island, by continuing good health practices, by maintaining physical distancing, and by acting responsibly to protect those at highest risk.
Last week our enforcement team began undertaking visits to hospitality businesses to ensure they were complying with physical distancing and seated service requirements.
I am pleased to note that there has been a significant improvement in compliance.
The response from both businesses visited and members of the public has been extremely positive and, where necessary, advice and guidance on improving processes has been well received and acted upon.
I am also very encouraged to see so many businesses using locally developed technology to record their guest data, to keep it secure, and to enable fast and accurate contact tracing if required.
This demonstrates that Jersey has the entrepreneurial spirit to ensure the Island economy can still succeed while complying with health restrictions, and can rely on the skill of its digital experts and infrastructure.
The enforcement team has also been visiting the homes of those Islanders who have travelled abroad and returned to undergo a period of isolation, in line with the Safer Travel restrictions.
Unfortunately, three islanders were found to be in breach of the self-isolation rules. Regrettably, they are now facing prosecution and, potentially, substantial fines.
I urge Islanders who are travelling or planning to travel to take their responsibilities seriously, and follow the restrictions which are there to protect us all.
Finally, I would like to update you on one of the key economic measures that we announced last month as part of the £150 million Fiscal Stimulus Package.
In early September we will begin to distribute, via Jersey Post, the £100 Spend Local Cards to every adult and child on the Island.
These will be in the form of a prepaid Mastercard for those aged 16 and above, and prepaid card for those aged under 16.
You’ll get instructions with the cards on how to activate them. Both cards can be used in any place that accepts Mastercard, but not for online purchases or cash withdrawals.
You can’t transfer the cards to another person, you should keep them safe as you would any credit card, and please keep hold of them after you have spent your £100 – as this will allow us to top them up if we decide to repeat the scheme!
However you decide to spend your £100 please continue to support our Island businesses and the jobs and livelihoods they provide in these most challenging of times.