11 June 2020
From midnight, tonight, Jersey will enter Level 2 of our Safe Exit Framework, giving Islanders and businesses increased freedom as we move safely – and gradually – towards the ‘new normal’ of living with COVID-19.
This is a hugely positive step, and one possible only because of the continued cooperation of all Islanders in preventing the spread of Coronavirus in our community.
We currently have only 5 active cases of COVID-19 in the Island. One of these cases was found through our planned workforce screening, two were found following the patients' seeking healthcare, and the final two were contact traced because of their physical proximity to other cases.
None of these cases involves a care home. In fact, the last case in an Island care home was recorded on 31 March, some 10 weeks ago.
Earlier this week, we also released detailed results of the second round of our Community Antibody Testing programme, which suggests 4.2% of Islanders – that’s approximately 4,500 people - have come into contact with COVID-19.
Of those who tested positive for antibodies, 62% had not experienced any symptoms.
All this testing has given us much more information about how COVID-19 has spread in Jersey, how it has impacted Islanders, and supports our move to the next Level of the Safe Exit Framework.
Level 2 is about being Safer Together.
And I would ask that everyone, whether working in a business or as a member of the public, continues to follow the health guidance – meaning we can progress steadily towards Level 1 and the ‘new normal.’
No one wants to return to Level 4. Increasing restrictions again will impact people's mental and physical health, their livelihoods, and our community.
A phased relaxation of our measures is better than a rapid return to a stricter lockdown.
Together, we must achieve a balance of becoming more social, gathering a little more, taking part in more activities, and beginning some connectivity off-Island without triggering an upsurge of new Coronavirus infections.
As we all know, anyone can catch COVID-19 and anyone can spread it.
But we can ALL reduce the risk of doing this by remembering the 4 ‘Safer Principles’, which underpin our move to Level 2:
- Safer hygiene
- Safer at a distance
- Safer in smaller groups
- Safer outside
In practice, this means please keep washing your hands; avoid touching your face; catch your cough or sneeze in a tissue or your elbow; and clean surfaces regularly.
Keep a physical distance of 2 metres from anyone you don’t live with.
Continue keeping a smaller social circle than usual to help supress a possible outbreak of COVID-19.
And, if you meet up for social gatherings in private settings - such as parties, barbecues or informal get-togethers – these should be limited to a maximum of 20 people and only if you have the space to allow for that number while maintaining distancing
The risk of transmitting COVID-19 is greater indoors and especially over longer periods of time. There is less more room to physically distance inside - so, if you meet people or attend a gathering, you should do it outdoors where possible.
Managing the risk of COVID-19 when you’re at increased risk is not easy. To support islanders to make informed decisions about their individual situations, further advice will be published next week.
Once again we’re working with GPs and other health care professionals to disseminate the updated advice.
If you are in doubt about your individual situation, please seek advice from your doctor or health care professional.
As we enter Level 2 we will also move away from categorising people as ‘severely vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerable’.
We will instead use ‘high risk’ and ‘moderate risk’. This will align with the new advice and support islanders to balance the risks of potential exposure to infection, with the negative impacts of prolonged isolation on their mental health, mobility and general fitness.
In light of the very low levels of COVID-19 activity in Jersey, if you are at moderate risk you may return to work where it has been agreed with your employer that this can be done safely.
However, at this stage of the pandemic, Islanders should continue to work from home where possible.
High risk Islanders can undertake outdoor leisure or recreational activities, as long as they can physically distance from those they do not live with and follow other public health guidance such as regular hand washing.
High risk people should continue to undertake work from home where this is possible and going out to work is currently not recommended, unless - for example - they work alone and do not need to take public transport to travel to their work place.
Throughout Level 2, we’ll continue to closely monitor the impact of easing restrictions on the spread of COVID-19, and the pace at which new measures are introduced will be based on the medical assessment of potential risks.
If - at any time - our public health monitoring indicates a rapid increase in cases, especially those requiring hospital care, the easing of measures may be suspended.
If absolutely necessary, a full lockdown could be re-imposed.
There will be more changes as we move cautiously through the rest of Level 2, and towards Level 1 – and Islanders will see increased aspects of normal life returning.
This will be also be the last of our scheduled Press Conferences, as we move into a more normal routine of public engagement.
We’ll continue to provide critical updates to Islanders through the media, but these will happen as and when there are important announcements about our movement through the Safe Exit Framework.
I want to use this opportunity to say a sincere ‘Thank You’ to all Islanders for your continued patience, support and cooperation during this crisis. You have demonstrated the spirit and sense of community for which our Island is known – and have allowed us to progress so quickly to this good place.
To the media, thank you for your continued engagement – robust at times – but always with the aim of getting the public the information they need about how to stay safe.
To the telecom companies for promoting these Press Conferences, and to the technical team who have made them possible – you assistance has been invaluable.
To all the staff within the public sector – including in Health and community services, the contact and tracing teams, in public health, in policy, in the ports, policing and communications. Thank you. And a special, personal thanks to the team I work with on a daily basis.
You have all gone above and beyond to ensure the continued safety of our Island, and we all owe you a great debt of gratitude for the work you have done over these last months to tackle the spread of COVID-19.