16 November 2020
View Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, has made the following speech:
Over the last two weeks, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in our Island, with strong evidence of community transmission.
We now have 162 active cases, and more than 1700 people in self-isolation, after being identified as direct contacts of positive cases.
Analysis of recent cases supports our view that the virus is now present in pockets of the wider Island community.
And the age-distribution of these cases, particularly among those aged 20 to 29, is consistent with the experience of our European neighbours, who saw a second wave begin with young adults during the summer.
Compliance with public health guidance remains mixed. We are pleased to see more people wearing masks, but many seem to regard other important safety measures, such as restricting numbers at gatherings, as purely optional.
Recent hospitality spot-checks conducted by the States of Jersey Police and Honorary Police found evidence of this. Contact-Tracing also found that parties were the root cause of some of our recent cases.
This evidence was presented to Competent Authorities Ministers at a meeting last Wednesday. And it clearly showed that without urgent and concerted action, by all Islanders, now, we may be forced to implement short-term lockdown measures in early December.
And these short-term measures could be longer term, possibly extending into the Christmas period, if this situation isn’t managed. This is NOT what I want our Island community to have to face.
Earlier this month, we introduced our Winter Strategy to continue the suppression of COVID-19 in Jersey, while balancing the need to keep our children in school, our businesses open and our Island running as normally as possible.
On the basis of case evidence, it is now clear that Jersey has entered an ‘Early Warning’ Phase. So we need additional action to target the virus and to implement stronger universal measures.
Today the Minister for Health and Social Services will be setting out the escalation measures that will come into effect over the coming days to prevent the continued spread of the virus.
From next week we’ll be working alongside the Youth Service and Office of the Children’s Commissioner to launch a communication and engagement plan targeted at young people, parents and carers.
I am not going to sugar-coat the problems that we face, or what the evidence is telling us, or underplay the importance of personal responsibility for containing the spread of COVID-19.
It is critical that we all take the measures outlined today with the utmost seriousness… and understand the real risk of lockdown-style measures if we don’t adhere to them.
I am also acutely aware of the need to address the economic impact that these additional measures will have, especially on the hospitality sector. The Treasury Minister and Minister for Economic Development will shortly set out the details of a new package of support to protect Island businesses during the winter.
I want to emphasise the very real risk that we are currently facing. It’s no exaggeration to say that we are balanced on a knife edge.
These additional measures will allow us to continue enjoying the hard-earned freedoms that we have fought for, in the face of a growing global pandemic.
We can slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community if we work together.
If we don’t make wearing masks the norm, if we don’t keep small social groups, if we don’t observe social distancing, then these measures will fail.
If they fail, then we WILL have to seriously consider an imminent lockdown, whether for a short or extended period.
IF this is likely to happen, then it will be announced by Government, in good time, and across all media channels, so Islanders have time to prepare.
Please do not pay attention to rumours of lockdown on social media, or circulated by WhatsApp groups. Instead, please follow Government channels and mainstream media announcements.
We do not know yet what the end of this year will bring. We are hopeful that the recently announced vaccine will begin to become available, and we are taking steps to ensure that this can be distributed across our community – as quickly as possible – in the New Year.
Until that happens, and until we know how effective it will be, we MUST continue to protect one another as best we can.
We need to act now.
And act together as a community.