18 December 2020
While the increase in our Island-wide testing has inevitably led to an increase in the number of cases being identified, the number of positive cases amongst Islanders seeking healthcare and those coming into hospital whatever reason indicates a rise in the overall transmission of the virus.
It is now two weeks since the Government introduced the hospitality circuit breaker, there is still a significant risk posed by the number of new cases we are seeing on a daily basis.
STAC have met twice this week and agreed that while the position will become clearer over coming days, this is a pivotal point. A continued upward trend would have a significant impact on Island life as we enter the New Year.
I cannot overemphasise this: We are in a serious position, and without concerted action by us all, it will become more serious as we enter the Christmas period.
The most pressing issue is gathering indoors – whether at home or at work.
From now on, pending further information, mixing between households indoors and in private gardens must stop. If you must mix with another household, you should do so outside in a large space like on the beach, in a park, or in country lanes and maintain 2 metres of physical distance at all times.
Visits for caring purposes can continue but families need to think very carefully about seeing elderly or vulnerable people indoors, for a prolonged period of time. This is a high-risk activity and it doesn’t matter if it happens on Christmas Day, or this Sunday.
Acting in this careful, sensible way will have the greatest possible impact on transmission in the coming weeks.
We understand that Christmas Day and Boxing Day are special occasions, and meaningful to many Islanders, and so people will want to meet.
But you should be limiting any visits to these days only, and should only be doing two gatherings, one on each day, with a maximum of ten people.
However, I need to be clear. Christmas and New Year pose a significant risk to the health of our entire Island, and especially those who are most vulnerable.
While almost all care home residents have now been vaccinated, very many vulnerable Islanders still require their first dose of the new vaccine. We cannot vaccinate them until we receive the vaccine. We cannot vaccinate sick people and so we must keep people safe to make them vaccine ready.
We must all understand that meeting up with elderly or more vulnerable, puts them in harm's way. Islanders need to balance that risk, and the chance of passing the virus to someone awaiting the vaccine, versus the discomfort of not seeing them over this Christmas period. You need to make an informed choice together.
Not seeing elderly relatives may not be a comfortable choice, or a popular one. But, in our current situation, it is the safest decision to take.
We must now focus on the ongoing effort to return to normal in 2021.
We must focus on reducing active case numbers through to January, so that families and friends can meet together safely as we go forward.
We must focus on the vaccination programme, that will continue to be rolled out to the most vulnerable first.
And we must focus on keeping people well, across the board but especially those at risk and those in our hospital and care homes. Keeping each other safe is the most important gift we can give this Christmas.