01 June 2020
Senator Gorst and I are here today to explain how we can all continue to work together to put Jersey back on its feet and return, not just to where we were, but potentially to an even better and stronger position.
Many Islanders have recognised, more clearly than ever before, that their daily lives - and the prosperity we enjoy - are inextricably linked to the health of our businesses and the jobs they provide. Not just large companies but the hairdressers and nurseries, dentists, supermarkets and the many other businesses that we all rely on every single day.
The initial impact of COVID-19 was extreme and immediate, affecting nearly every workplace. This inevitably caused a significant slowdown in our economy, creating an estimated loss of more than £100 million per month.
In addition, the Fiscal Policy Panel has forecast that the value of Jersey's economy will fall by over 6% this year. This is in common with other developed economies globally, which are also expected to see significant declines.
As a response, we moved fast to put in place the biggest financial support package the island has ever mobilised – potentially worth more than £300 million.
In March, Phase 1 of the Co-funded Payroll Scheme supported almost 7,000 employees to the tune of £2 million. And to date approximately £20 million has been paid under Phase 2, of the scheme for April, supporting more than15,000 jobs.
I am therefore pleased to announce that, we are extending the Payroll Support Scheme until the end of August, subject to the final sign off by the Treasury Minister.
Safe exit strategy
As of today, according to latest statistics, there are no patients in the General Hospital with COVID-19 and there are two active cases on the Island.
This is evidence that our ‘Contain, Delay and Shield’ strategy has so far thankfully proved the worst predictions wrong - and enabled us to protect Islanders’ health, particularly those members of our society who are most vulnerable.
At the same time, our Safe Exit Strategy has moved slowly but steadily from Level Four to Level Three, allowing many businesses to open with the appropriate safety guidelines.
I am also pleased to announce today that, based on expert medical advice, we will move to Level Two from Friday 12th June.
This will mean that many more businesses will be able to open with the appropriate safety, professional body and sector-specific guidelines in place.
These businesses include some of those in Hair and Beauty, Health and Fitness, Healthcare and other services that provide close personal contact.
Restaurants, cafés and other food establishments able to offer a physically distanced indoor seated food service.
Libraries, community centres, youth centres, places of worship; museums and galleries; cinemas, theatres and concert venues; arcades and bowling alleys can also open, with strict physical distancing and best hygiene practices.
Some other leisure businesses and venues that that involve close personal contact may open, where they are able to follow strict sector-specific guidelines and best hygiene practices.
Hotels, hostels, B&Bs, boarding houses, lodging houses, self-catering vacation accommodation, caravan parks and campsites can open soon, primarily for the local market, subject to medical advice and sector specific guidelines.
This has all been made possible by the ongoing support, actions and sacrifices of many islanders.
But, in the face of this ongoing pandemic we must remain alert and the progress to phase two will depend upon the continued containment of the virus why is why it is essential that we all continue to follow the guidance and act responsibly.
Political Oversight Group
A Political Oversight Group together with an Economic Council has been established to lead the economic recovery program. To help guide that process, the States Assembly has agreed to hold an In-Committee debate, tomorrow on Economic Recovery.
Given the huge economic ramifications of the pandemic, it is important that all States Members come together, as your elected representatives, to contribute their views at the early stage of the recovery planning.
We must recognise, as an Assembly, that out of the difficulties and challenges we are facing now will come opportunity and, with it, an opportunity for us to act collegiately, collectively but still very democratically, in the very best interests of future generations of islanders.
The Political Oversight Group and Economic Council is clear that its work must also be informed by consultation with Islanders, with businesses and business groups, and of course, the Scrutiny process.
The aim is to have extended economic stimulus proposals for Ministers to consider by the end of June and a framework of future economy proposals for further political determination by September.
This is a watershed moment for our Island.
One where we can decide the future of our economy, our community and our society.
One where we can ensure that we can create full living wage employment.
One where we can look to the sustainability of our economy, and how we can lead in a technological and environmental context.
I’ll now ask Senator Gorst to talk about the important efforts taking place to support the Islands charitable sector through COVID-19. Following that, we will be happy to take questions from the media.