26 March 2020
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, has issued the following statement:
From midnight tonight, all Islanders aged 65 and over, and people with underlying medical conditions, must self-isolate to shield them from the spread of the Coronavirus. The Government agreed the measure today, following medical advice that the virus has started to spread within the community.
We are introducing this measure to protect our most vulnerable groups of Islanders from the spread of Coronavirus, because the medical advice is that they are more like to suffer from more severe symptoms, be hospitalised and require intensive care. They are also at greatest risk of death.
The advice, from the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, is based on the latest data and is in line with the Government’s approach to contain the virus where possible, delay its spread and shield the most vulnerable groups.
From midnight, therefore, Islanders aged 65 and over, and people with underlying medical conditions, should only leave their homes for a total of two hours per day and in the following limited circumstances:
- first, to shop for basic necessities, such as food and medicine, which must be as infrequently as possible
- second, for daily exercise. This can include walking, cycling, running, sea swimming or other open sea activities, provided you maintain social distancing from everyone else
- third, for medical reasons, if you are advised to do so by a healthcare worker or required to do so having called 999.
Those with severe underlying conditions, such as those with certain cancers and severe respiratory disease, should adhere to stringent self-isolation and stay home.
The Government will issue further, detailed guidance tomorrow. This will be available on gov.je and will be communicated via social media, the press and the call centre.
By self-isolating, with the support of family, friends and the help of volunteers, we hope to shield over 65s, and those with underlying medical conditions, from the virus.
This will help save lives, by significantly reducing hospital demand throughout the infection curve.
The Government Community Taskforce will mobilise to support this group to stay in their homes and we will keep them informed about when it is likely to be safe enough to ease these restrictions. I should be clear that this will be a matter of weeks, not days.
I must stress to those affected that this is for your own safety, and it requires all of us to ensure that we keep our distance and practice good hygiene, so we don’t take the infection into your homes.