30 November 2021
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, gave the following speech:
Today I am joined by the Deputy Chief Minister, the Minister for Health and Social Services and the Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat. We will be setting out the latest developments in our pandemic response and outline the new measures we will be introducing.
Last night, Competent Authority Ministers met to discuss and agree new measures in response to the COVID-19 Omicron Variant.
These recommendations were made by Public Health in consultation with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC), as part of Jersey’s COVID-19 Winter Strategy.
First, we will be implementing some changes to our border policy.
From Friday 3 December, anyone over the age of 11 arriving into Jersey from outside the Common Travel Area – that’s outside the United Kingdom, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Ireland – will have to isolate until they receive a negative PCR test result, regardless of their vaccination status or age.
While this will largely affect travellers arriving from France at the harbour, it will also apply to Islanders who have visited a country outside the CTA before arriving in Jersey via the UK.
This aligns with the position in the UK.
Jersey continues to mirror the UK Government’s approach relating to red list countries, by requiring anyone who arrived in Jersey before the red list was amended, and had travelled to any of the red list countries after Friday 12 November, to book a PCR test immediately.
This should be followed by a second PCR test five days later, regardless of whether a negative PCR test result has already been received. Islanders are asked to call the Coronavirus helpline to book their PCR tests.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will be reviewing the policy in three weeks to ensure the measures are proportionate.
Masks remain strongly encouraged, particularly in settings where physical distancing is difficult, and Ministers are currently reviewing this position.
Masks remain mandatory for all Islanders over the age of 12 - unless exempt - when using public transport, including in buses and taxis, and inside the bus station, the airport and harbour buildings.
Masks are an effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and will continue to be strongly recommended anywhere it is difficult to physically distance or where ventilation is poor. This is especially important over the winter months as the weather gets colder and we spend more time inside.
I would now like to hand over to the Minister for Health and Social Services.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, gave the following speech:
Islanders will be aware of the developing situation with the Omicron variant, which has been identified in recent weeks.
The Government has been monitoring the International Rapid Assessments and there is some emerging evidence that this new variant is more transmissible than previous strains of COVID-19.
We are working with a UK lab to sequence our positive cases to check for the Omicron variant, but to date, no one in Jersey has tested positive. This does not mean we can become complacent. Like Delta, we do anticipate this variant to reach us and so we are taking steps now to ensure we have the necessary measures in place.
Therefore, Ministers have decided to require any direct contact of an Omicron positive case to isolate for 10 days and undergo regular testing, regardless of age or vaccine status.
Ministers have also decided to make changes to the vaccine programme, following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
We will be widening the eligibility criteria for COVID vaccination to ensure that the maximum number of Islanders receive the highest level of protection possible.
To ensure we are in line with the new JCVI recommendations, we will be reducing the interval between a second dose and a booster dose from 6 months to 3 months.
We will also be offering Islanders aged 18-39 a booster dose of the COVID vaccine. This follows our announcement last week which saw appointments open up to all Islanders aged 40 and above.
Also, in-line with JCVI advice, we will be offering a second dose of the vaccine to 12-15 years olds, and we will be providing a booster dose – or fourth dose – to any Islanders who are severely vulnerable or immunosuppressed.
Ministers are prioritising this, as vaccination is the best defence we have and will provide vital protection to Islanders during the Winter months. More details of when the expanded vaccination offering will be available to eligible Islanders will be announced very soon.
To enable our dedicated vaccination team to accommodate the additional demand for COVId-19 vaccination, we will be moving flu vaccines out of Fort Regent’s vaccination centre. Flu vaccination will remain available at all GP surgeries and pharmacies, and is free of charge to all at risk flu groups including all Islanders aged 50 years and over.
I urge all eligible Islanders to get both their flu and COVID-19 vaccines - both are quick and easily accessible, and it remains the very best way to maximise protection for yourself and those around you.
The Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, gave the following speech:
As we enter the Christmas period, we are determined to ensure that all the necessary precautions are taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our community. However, we are also aware of the importance of this time of year to many Islanders, businesses, and industries - and the wish to spend time with friends, family, and colleagues.
So we are asking organisers of large events – such as Christmas parties – to encourage attendees to take a lateral flow test beforehand.
All Islanders over the age of 12 can participate in the Lateral Flow Home Testing scheme, by signing up online to receive a free box of free LFT tests delivered straight to their home.
In the run up to Christmas, we want to Keep Jersey in Business, and checking your COVID status is simple and easy – so do your bit to protect local businesses and use the free lateral flow kits we have provided
We are also committed to supporting businesses throughout the winter period, with the Visitor Attraction and Events Scheme, the Visitor Accommodation Support Scheme and the Fixed Cost Support Scheme extended to March 2022.
The extension of the business support measures will continue to protect livelihoods and ensure that businesses who continue to be the most severely affected by the pandemic receive appropriate support throughout the winter months. These schemes will remain under regular review. We will of course, keep all business support measures under review through the Winter.
The Chief Minister, Senator John le Fondré, concluded the speeches:
I would like to re-emphasise the updates we have made to our vaccination policy.
All Islanders over the age of 18 are now eligible for a booster vaccine. We have also widened the eligibility for second and third dose vaccines.
This means that more Islanders than ever can now get that additional protection of a second or third jab and I would urge you to please take up this offer.
It's safe, simple, free and it’s the very best way to protect your loved ones this winter.
Remember, there are practical steps we can all take to keep Jersey safe this Winter and I know these are familiar to you all.
In particular, you can order a free box of lateral flow tests to be delivered to your door or workplace. These tests are simple and quick and will give you peace of mind when visiting relatives, going to an event or enjoying a Christmas Party this festive season.
Thank you for joining us today and have a good afternoon.