04 July 2021
Following a meeting of the Competent Authorities Ministers today, the Chief Minister has announced an update to the Government's testing, tracing and isolation policies.
From 7pm on Sunday, 4 July:
- there is no isolation requirement for anyone identified as a direct contact as long as they are participating in the testing programme and do not have COVID-19 symptoms
- direct contacts who choose not to be tested are required to isolate for 14 days
- identified direct contacts will be contacted by the COVID Safe team to arrange testing. This may be by text message, phone or email
- all passengers who are identified as a direct contact when travelling to Jersey will not have to isolate, but will still need to follow the testing regime for arrivals as set out in the Safer Travel Policy
- the Safer Travel Policy testing and isolation requirements for arriving passengers remains unchanged
- if Islanders develop any one of the main COVID-19 symptoms, they must immediately isolate and call the Coronavirus Helpline to arrange a test
- if Islanders receive a positive result for COVID-19, they must isolate immediately for 14 days
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said: "Ministers acknowledge that the successful contact tracing system, which was highly effective in earlier stages of the pandemic, now needs a revision due to the high levels of protection our vaccination programme has afforded Islanders, and the risks of serious illness being much lower, despite the virus remaining in circulation.
"We recognise the significant impact that the isolation policy has had on Islanders personally and professionally, including children and young people, who have seen interruptions to their routines and education. Jersey's COVID-19 strategy has always focused on supporting public health measures which cause the least overall harm to Islanders.
"It is a balance between managing the wave of infections and illness with the need to implement restrictions on freedom of movement, which no Government wants to do. Ministers acknowledge this change will mean that COVID cases will increase but we anticipate that the impacts on individuals will be less severe.
"The change in policy will allow for the COVID Safe team to focus on the management of testing and the enforcement of isolation for Islander's who are positive with COVID-19.
"Together as a community, we have successfully protected each other against serious illness and kept the rates of hospitalisations and deaths low. This couldn't have been achieved without all Islanders playing their part and adhering to the public health guidance, which I ask you to continue playing your part in doing.
"I am confident that the revised policy will ensure the integrity of our test and trace infrastructure, while ensuring that the overall harm to Islanders is not outweighed by the restrictions."
Earlier this week, Stage 7 Reconnection was paused while Ministers also set out that the number of COVID cases on Island will not be used as the measure to determine the final stages of reconnection or the risk presented by COVID-19.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf said: "As we learn more about the virus and how we manage life with it, we need to proportionately adjust our policies to ensure we are not causing unnecessary harm to Islanders, businesses and schools. We must amend restrictions to freedom which are now causing more harm to Islanders' health and wellbeing than the COVID infections we are seeing on Island.
"Proportionate restrictions are now needed to reflect the lower risk that COVID-19 has on public health, thanks to our vaccination programme. The vaccination programme has fully vaccinated 60% of those 18 and above and we have seen low risk of severe illness and hospitalisation, which shows a significant level of protection in the community from severity of infection.
"With the revision of the policy, we must not overlook the importance of vaccination and the protection it affords Islanders; it is the most important mitigation we have which will see Islanders safely through the pandemic.
"In the context of vaccination coverage, it is time to stop seeing the number of cases as the primary risk factor. With these changes in policy, Jersey will see a significant increase in the number of positive cases but what we must now focus on is our hospitalisation rate and protecting our vital services.
"As always, we will continue to monitor the impact of these changes and if that scale of harm becomes outweighed again, we will review restrictions. Please remember the basics of good protection from COVID-19. Public health recommendations are to wash your hands, wear a face mask in public, keep two meters away from people in public spaces, and to allow good circulation of fresh air.
"I urge those who present with any one of the COVID symptoms to isolate immediately and contact the helpline for a test."
Key information for those currently in isolation as a direct contact:
- All direct contacts currently in isolation who are awaiting test results or test appointments can immediately leave isolation
- All direct contacts who have received a positive result must remain in isolation
- All direct contacts who have not agreed to be tested must remain in isolation. If they now wish to be tested, they should phone the helpline to book a test
Islanders are advised to call the helpline on 0800 735 5566 for a test if they have symptoms of COVID-19. If waiting for a follow up test then they should await a text message, phone call or email from the COVID Safe team.