21 January 2021
Thank you, Chief Minister.
We have seen the number of active cases decline steadily in recent weeks and while this is a positive step, we cannot become complacent or presume we have beaten COVID-19. We have not.
Our vaccine rollout is well under way but as we have said many times, we cannot vaccinate people who are sick. It is vital we supress the virus so that we can continue to vaccinate our Island’s most vulnerable.
This week, we continue to vaccinate Islanders over 80, health and social care workers and care home staff, and we are performing on average around 500-700 vaccinations every day which is proportionate to the demographic we’re prioritising, ensuring they have the time they need to receive their vaccine and make their way through the Vaccination Centre
Based on our most recent statistics showing the position on Sunday 17th January, a total of 5,845 Islanders have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, including eligible care home residents and workers. Over 2000 had received their second dose.
We remain ahead of the UK and other European countries.
As of Sunday 44% of those aged over 80 have now received their first dose of the vaccine, and 10% have received their second dose.
Next Monday, the 25th, we will open registration for those aged 75 to 79 to receive their first dose of the vaccine and these appointments will begin from Saturday the 30th of January.
Those aged between 70-74 years old, as well as Islanders at high-risk of COVID-19, will be able to book their appointments from the first of February and their appointments will begin from the 6th of February.
I would urge those Islanders who are eligible to make appointments because receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will significantly reduce your risk of severe infection.
Our health care system is in good shape with ample capacity, an improving staffing situation and very few active cases still in the General Hospital. And we have been able to resume routine and elective work this week.
We have also been carefully monitoring the position in our Island’s schools, including with proactive testing. Between the first and twelfth of January, we tested 1,912 education staff, including 1,351 teachers. Of these, only 4 were positive for COVID-19.
Over the same period we tested more than fifteen hundred 15 to 18 years olds and again, only 4 were positive.
We will be working closely with the retail sector to ensure that appropriate mitigations are in place to allow non-essential retail to safely reopen next week.
This may include making changes to street opening, layout and pedestrian flow, so that social contact is reduced.
We will make further announcements about the details of these mitigations at the start of next week, before non-essential retail reopens on Wednesday.
Some Islanders might say these measures are overly cautious or unnecessary. But they are there for our safety and the safety of our whole community.
Every step we are taking, at a controlled and manageable pace, allows our clinicians the data they need to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately to keep us safe. Please continue to follow the guidance closely, and help them to do just that.
We are at a point which I know many Islanders will welcome after a particularly difficult Christmas and New Year.
We are beginning on the road, slowly but surely, to return to some sense of normality.
I understand that some Islanders may now want to mix households and to gather indoors. But it is important that we do not become complacent.
We know that indoor gatherings pose a significant risk of transmission. And I want to emphasise that risks increasing the spread of the virus and undoing the good progress we have seen in recent weeks.
In the last days, the media have focused on specific sections of the STAC minutes, alleging that their advice is not being considered by Ministers.
That is simply not the case.
As we have said since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we are guided always by the medical advice. And we take that into careful consideration, together with the legal, public health, economic and other expert reports presented to Ministers when we are taking decisions.
I would point out that the Chair of STAC, Dr Patrick Armstrong, Dr Muscat, and the Interim Director of Public Health Policy, who all are members of STAC, also attend the meetings of Competent Authority Ministers. We are extremely grateful for their advice and guidance which informs our decisions.
We must all continue to follow the advice of STAC and our medical professionals. They have guided us to the careful balance between protecting Islanders from the virus, and the significant risk to physical and mental health that a prolonged lockdown could cause.
We acknowledge that restrictions create additional pressures on businesses and the local economy. The Deputy Chief Minister will now talk about those and outline the updates to our economic support measures.
Deputy Chief Minister.