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States Assembly agree new law on safe distancing

28 May 2020

The States Assembly has approved a new law that reinforces the importance of maintaining a safe physical distance to reduce any spread of the virus in our community. 

The new Covid-19 Regulations supersede the Restricted Movement Order, which previously required Islanders to stay at home most of the time, with up to six hours a day permitted outside the home.

While the number of new cases is low, there is still an ongoing risk of the virus spreading, so the new regulations continue the legal requirement for Islanders to stay 2 metres apart from people they don’t live with, wherever possible. 

Clear public health evidence shows that keeping a safe distance from others is one of the most effective ways to stop Covid-19 spreading. Islanders are therefore asked to help continue to limit the potential spread of Covid-19, and respect the risk that the virus still poses, by observing 2 metres’ physical distance. 

The public health advice remains for Islanders to limit contact with people they don’t live with, especially indoors, because the risk of transmitting Covid-19 is greater indoors. 

As of Friday, 29 May the core public health advice for individuals and families remains:

  • Stay 2 metres apart from anyone you don’t live with, wherever possible
  • Think carefully about whether to allow people inside your own home, and whether to enter others’ homes, because the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is greater indoors. (Parties or gatherings inside homes remain strongly discouraged
  • You can socially meet up to five people you don’t live with on any day, and are strongly encouraged do so outside where transmission risk is lower (and as ever, keep a safe distance away)
  • Wash your hands regularly, and catch coughs or sneezes in a tissue
  • Keep surfaces clean, especially toilet facilities
  • People severely vulnerable to complications from Covid-19 (high risk medical conditions) and people vulnerable to complications from Covid-19 (underlying medical conditions) remain advised to be extra vigilant, and to make a personal choice about the extent to which they wish to continue to shield from becoming infected, by staying at home and limiting physical contact. They may helpfully seek medical advice about balancing risk.
  • If you have flu-like symptoms, stay or go home immediately and call the Helpline on 01534 445566.

There is no longer a legal limit on the amount of time you can spend outside your home and no restriction as to the reasons for being outside of your home.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Renouf said: “Following advice from the Medical Officer of Health, these new Regulations mean a further easing of the rules that have been in place since the end of March. Because there is now a low level of COVID-19 transmission in the Island, the legal restrictions in the former “Stay at Home” Order that have kept us in our homes are no longer necessary. But we do still need everyone to stay 2 metres away from others outside their household as this is the most effective way to control the spread of the virus.

“Two metres is a distance that protects from the airborne droplets of a cough or sneeze, and it also reminds us to avoid handshakes, hugs, or kissing friends’ cheeks, as is customary in more normal times.”

The Safe Distancing (Regulations) (Jersey) 2020 creates a new offence. Anyone who wilfully fails to comply with the direction of a police officer to cease gathering, at less than 2 metres, with someone from another household is liable to be fined up to £1,000, or a maximum of £200 if an offence is dealt with at a parish hall enquiry. Parents and guardians will be held responsible for ensuring that children follow the rules, if they are together and if it reasonably practical to prevent a child from getting too close to others. 

The Regulations do not apply to private houses and gardens. Neither do they apply to workplaces, shops and construction sites, which must still follow tailored public health guidelines to minimise risk and protect the health and safety of workers and customers, even inside and in circumstances where the 2-metre rule cannot apply.  

Deputy Renouf continued: “We are continuing, cautiously and gradually, to follow our phased Safe Exit Framework to ease the lockdown measures, since we have Covid-19 transmission well under control. As we move through each level of our Safe Exit Framework we will continue to monitor the impact of each change and aim to keep the virus at very low levels in our community. I am thankful to Islanders for their community spirit and resilience which has enabled us to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the Island.” 

Regular Review

  1. The Minister will keep these regulations under review, and the Medical Officer of Health will present a report to the States Assembly at least once every two weeks.
  2. Each report will cover any changes in the risk of the spread of Covid-19, and the likelihood of any change to that risk in the next 14 days. If there is a change, the report will explain any actions recommended for the Medical Officer of Health.
  3. The Minister must respond to any recommendation and lodge that response before the Assembly, along with the report.
  4. If the Medical Officer of Health advises that the criminal offences in these Regulations are no longer a necessary and proportionate response, the Minister will be required to suspend the offence, to propose an amendment, or to entirely repeal the Regulations.
  5. In line with all Covid-19 emergency legislation, these Regulations expire on 30 September 2020 unless renewed by the States Assembly.
  6. The Minister can also suspend the offences at any time.
  7. This law does not apply to anyone who is meeting their legal obligations, answering an emergency or providing medical attention.
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