01 April 2020
I want to start by thanking you for taking the ‘Stay at Home’ instruction so seriously.
There‘s been a noticeable difference on our streets, in our shops, and in our workplaces over these last three days.
I know that what sounds like a simple request, to ‘Stay at Home’, is far more difficult in reality.
As a father, I understand the pressure it puts on families, with children being taught from home and isolated from their friends.
We’re all separated from loved ones and extended families, even with the benefit of technology.
So, thank you, sincerely, for your cooperation, your understanding and your patience.
By staying at home, you’re protecting the most vulnerable in our society and ensuring that our health services are not completely overwhelmed....
In a time of global crisis, it’s understandable that you want more information and guidance.
You want to know what Government wants you to do.
And what Government is doing to support you.
My challenge is ensuring that you are given the right information, at the right time, so you can respond appropriately.
The evolving situation means the answers aren’t always available right away. But I promise we will give that information – clearly and openly – as soon as it’s confirmed.
Yesterday, I hosted my first Twitter question and answer session and was very pleased with the level of engagement.
But I understand the limitations of that platform. I couldn’t answer all the questions in detail, and I hope to address some now.
I’m also looking at more ways to engage with the public using other social media platforms, as well as in print and on the radio - to ensure anyone who isn’t online can get all the information they need. But if you or someone you know are in any doubt as to what help is available, and can’t get access online, please ring either your Parish Hall or the helpline.
First - I want to give you an update on our healthcare position.
There are currently 81 positive cases of coronavirus in Jersey, and 9 Islanders are in hospital.
We’re not releasing details of the number of people in intensive care.
That’s not because all those patients are receiving intensive care. It’s because the numbers involved are very very small, and we want to respect people’s right to privacy during a difficult time.
I’ve been asked about the modelling that underpins our health advice.
We have a clear ‘Contain, Delay and Shield’ public health strategy, which is in line with World Health Organsiation recommendations.
We have been containing the spread of the virus by requiring people with Coronavirus symptoms, and those that have travelled, to isolate themselves and their whole household completely. We are tracing those who have been in contact with confirmed cases, and requiring them to isolate themselves too.
We are delaying the spread of the virus through Stay at Home which, while it requires us all to make dramatic changes to our everyday lives, will make a huge difference in slowing the pace at which Coronavirus spreads across our community.
And we are actively shielding those people who are severely vulnerable to Coronavirus, by asking them to isolate themselves at home, to minimise the chances of them catching the virus. The Community Taskforce and our Parishes are making support for these people top priority: we want to keep them safe and healthy.
But we must be prepared for an increase in the number of cases. Our Health service has been working tirelessly to prepare for this, and we have up to 24 ventilators available for immediate use with a further 10 on order.
And I want to reassure you that, at present, there is enough PPE – that’s Personal Protective Equipment - for all healthcare workers, in accordance with Health guidelines and we are expecting more.
We’re supporting care providers across the community with sourcing equipment and operating a ‘one healthcare’ approach.
Tomorrow, the Public Health team will update you on our testing programme. Ultimately we want to test all Islanders, to identify those who are immune, and enable them to begin working and circulating again. The equipment we need to do this is, understandably, in high demand across the world. But it is a priority for us.
The health of our economy is also important, to ensure that Islanders can support themselves and their families.
We have introduced a Government Co-funded Payroll Scheme, Phase 1 of which began today. Applications are open and businesses will receive money within a few days of making their application.
Phase 2 of the Scheme will run between April and the end of June and is for businesses and self-employed workers who pay class 2 social security contributions. It also covers a wider range of sectors affected by Coronavirus.
For this period, they will be able to claim subsidies towards wages or salaries up to a maximum of £1,600 per worker, per month.
The scheme will be reviewed for extension.
The Jersey Business Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme, which was launched on Monday, has made £50 million available for loans to support local businesses.
We’ve relaxed Income Support rules for people under 25, and we’re providing financial support for anyone who’s lived here for less than five years. That Scheme, called CRESS, was launched today.
I’ve received many questions from members of the construction industry.
To be clear, from 6 o’clock this Friday afternoon – the 3rd April – all construction sites in Jersey must close.
A very few, who are carrying out work which is vital to Jersey’s infrastructure, will be able to carry on.
Every other construction worker should stop.
Many construction businesses may say they don’t work on a traditional building site – but this instruction to stop covers everyone.
The construction industry can use the Payroll Co-Funding Scheme during the next few weeks, and on Friday we will be announcing a permit scheme which will enable certain construction sites to reopen.
But that scheme will take a little time to set up.
So prepare to stop work on Friday evening, and look for more information then. If you are unsure, stop work and check by emailing ‘construction covid at gov dot je.’
The objective here is to stop the spread of coronavirus, and the construction industry have their part to play....
Please also bear in mind that shops are adjusting to new demands and we are in a transition period.
You can help by planning visits to the shops throughout the day, not taking children, and offering to shop for friends and family.
This will reduce the number of people turning up at the shops at the same time, ease queuing and preserve social distancing.
I want to thank the many Islanders who’ve given their time and expertise to our Connect Me scheme, supporting Islanders in need.
Anyone who’s fit and well is encouraged to register as a volunteer.
There are a wide range of roles. Some are in the community – delivering essential supplies and hot meals – and others are home-based and include translating or calling someone who’s in need of a chat.
If you’re struggling, or if you need support to get through this challenging time, please get in touch either through the helpline on 445566, by completing the ‘Connect Me’ form on gov.je or by contacting your Parish Hall.
We have to accept that this is not going to be an overnight process.
As much as we’d like to be able to wake up tomorrow and resume our lives, we’re going to have to face restrictive measures for some time.
It’ll be tough on our families, our businesses, and our community.
But we will come through this. Together.
When the time comes to lift lockdown, we'll look at how we can move back to normal life in a staged way.
Thank you again to everyone working in our community, in our public and emergency services, and especially in our health services - who are working day and night to protect Islanders and save lives.
We owe you all an immeasurable debt.
To everyone in our community, I repeat:
Stay home. And stay safe.
Thank you and good evening.