07 January 2021
I want begin by echoing your thanks to all Islanders, who have responded as a community to the new laws and guidance brought in just before Christmas.
This has been key to the improved position we have now reached.
But I should be clear, this is not the end of our fight against the spread and impact of COVID-19 in Jersey.
We are moving in the right direction, but we still have some distance to go. We need to continue to robustly suppress community transmission, given the potential rapid effect of the new COVID-19 variant.
Although this has NOT yet been shown by laboratory tests to be present in Jersey, we must assume it is already in our community and act in an appropriately cautious way.
As a result, we will gradually implement the process of reconnection with sufficient time between stages to monitor the impact on new cases of COVID-19 and the positivity rate.
This staggered, measured approach will allow the vaccination programme sufficient time to protect the most vulnerable in the community and shield them from any adverse impacts.
3188 Islanders have now received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and 11% of those aged 80 plus have already been immunised.
Yesterday, we opened registration for those aged over 80 seeking the vaccine, and I am delighted that over 2000 Islanders signed up for appointments.
I am immensely grateful to Dr Muscat, Julian Blazeby, Becky Sherrington, Ross Barnes and the entire vaccination team for their rapid, effective work to deploy the vaccine across the community.
Our vaccination programme will reach full operational capacity from 18 January, with the ability to vaccinate 7500 Islanders per week, limited only by the amount of vaccine received from the United Kingdom.
Staff in HCS are already reviewing their ability to surge that capacity if more vaccine is received, to ensure the rollout is completed as quickly as possible.
Yesterday, the Competent Authorities Ministers endorsed the decision of the Medical Director to move to a 10 week period between two doses of the vaccine, as recommended by the MRHA.
Under this timeline, 49,000 Islanders will have received their first dose by 29 March, including all High-Risk Islanders. By the 12 July, all 105,000 Islanders will have received their first dose of the vaccine, with the second dose completed by 6 September.
This is a phenomenal effort and one that will provide robust protection across our entire community.
As the Chief Minister has said, Ministers have also agreed to introduce a staged process for reconnecting our economy and society.
The first stage, which has been outlined, will involve the return of school pupils on Monday 11 January, with all necessary precautions and contact tracing in place.
On Monday 18 January, STAC will meet to consider the current medical position, the analysis of the Christmas period and the early impact of reopening schools.
They will advise whether it is appropriate – on the basis of the data available – to move to the Second Stage of reconnection.
This will include measures that present the lowest risk to an increase in case numbers and positivity. This could include non-essential retail, indoor recreation and close contact services.
These activities present a lower risk of transmission according to international and local data, they contribute positively to wellbeing and are associated with effective mitigations such as masks, distancing and PPE.
STAC will then present their recommendations to Competent Authorities Ministers on Wednesday 20 January.
If Ministers are content, then any relaxation in measures could be announced on Thursday 21 January and take effect on Monday 25 January.
Further stages will subsequently be considered by STAC, and a similar process followed.
There will always be at least a two-week gap between any relaxation of each tranche of COVID measures, to allow us to understand the impact that relaxation has on the spread of the virus.
This process will continue to be followed, gradually and always guided by the latest case and vaccination data, to allow economic and social reconnection.
Until the appropriate point, which will only occur when the key metrics from both case data and the vaccination programme show it is safe to do so, it is critical that Islanders continue to respect the restrictions in place and do not mix households.
In this way, by acting on the real case data we see and by moving in stages, we can assure Islanders of the safest return to normality.