On Monday night I said that NOW is the time for us to escalate Island-wide measures to prevent a significant outbreak of COVID-19 in our community.
Over the last two days, we have continued to see further significant rise in the number of active cases of the virus across the Island, and a further surge in symptomatic cases.
They now present a real and immediate risk to our Health Services, our ability to protect those who are at highest risk and Islanders’ lives.
The Minister for Health and Dr Muscat will shortly set out in detail the rise in active cases and the data informing the decisions we are announcing today.
These cases are not the result of single events, but clusters originating across Jersey. The rise in cases now affects all demographics, impacting on schools, businesses and families.
The virus has once again entered our health services and our homes.
And it must be stopped.
Today we are announcing a further raft of significant Island-wide measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. I know that the measures we are announcing today will be difficult, particularly at this time of year.
For some, they may be distressing. But they are necessary to slow the spread of the virus in Jersey.
The first of the new measures we are announcing today is a Hospitality Circuit Breaker.
This will see the closure of ALL licenced premises from one-minute past Midnight this Friday 4 December.
While this measure is in place, you will not be able to visit pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes or any other premises holding an alcohol licence. Hotels will also be closed, save for those hosting people who are isolating and essential workers.
Takeaways and delivery services will be able to continue operating and we would encourage the hospitality industry to innovate, as they did during the spring, to continue providing high-quality food and drink services to Islanders at home.
Increased financial support will also be available through the updated Co-Funded Payroll Scheme Phase 3, in order to support those adversely affected by these measures.
The Hospitality Circuit Breaker will be regularly reviewed to understand the impact on our overall R rate and whether further changes should be made. It is currently anticipated it will remain in place until after the New Year.
Secondly, physical distancing will be increased to a minimum of 2 metres from Friday.
We will reintroduce the previous guidelines and they will be enforced by regulation. Anyone failing to comply with an instruction to distance in public will be guilty of an offence.
All shops can remain open by carrying out appropriate risk assessments and following guidance, where possible, regarding the 2 metre guidelines, but gyms and indoor sport and fitness classes must close.
Finally, we will, in the next few days, set out the guidelines on household bubbles over Christmas. I want these to be clear for all Islanders to understand and to implement.
We will also set out how we can continue to enjoy family and social situations, to celebrate Christmas, but to do so safely. That will require personal responsibility and strict adherence to the guidance by all Islanders.
These new measures are in addition to the Work from Home instruction that we issued on Monday and also to the Order to wear masks in indoor public spaces which came into force yesterday.
These decisions have not been made lightly and I hope Islanders will recognise the serious position we find ourselves in and the necessity of introducing these new measures.
I know that collectively these measures represent a significant restriction on Islanders, particularly at this time of year, when we want to be celebrating and spending time with loved ones and friends.
But, we need to prevent our health services from being overwhelmed, and ensure we are still able to celebrate during the festive period.
Our Island now stands at an important crossroads in our pandemic response.
Islanders are entitled to know the potential worst-case scenario which the Health Minister has set out and there is no escaping the fact that cases will continue to rise in the days and weeks ahead.
We must take this threat seriously and follow the measures in place to protect our Island. The measures we have announced today may be unpopular and they will be frustrating to many.
But it is vital we now all follow them, to prevent the overloading of our healthcare services later this month and to avoid unnecessary deaths. By mitigating the spread of the virus, we can limit the number of Islanders who are put at risk, who are infected or who have to self-isolate over the festive period.
The next few weeks will not be easy. We will, however, continue to monitor the situation and the restrictions that are in place. This will be a very different December than those we are used to, but the serious position we are in means we must act to control the spread of COVID-19.
We all have a responsibility to follow these new measures and to protect those more vulnerable than ourselves.
Please stay safe and do your part to limit the spread.
Because this December, the most important gift we can give to our most vulnerable Islanders is the chance to safely enjoy this period, without facing undue risk.
The Health Minister and I will hold another Press Conference in the coming days to give a further update and to set out the Household Bubbles guidance.