COVID press briefing 17th April 2020

I made the following statement at the press briefing on 17th April.

As Gavin has said, we are in a very good place. Because we took action early and thanks to the fantastic support of islanders as GuernseyTogether, the curve has been flattened. 

It is because of that we hope come the end of next week to be in a position where we can ease the current tight restrictions gently in accordance with our exit strategy. However, this is not business as usual nor is it life as normal just yet. The key message still continues to be, STAY AT HOME if you can.

The Committee for Health and Social Care met at length yesterday afternoon into the evening, following the renewal of the regulations by the CCA providing it with the powers to make directions with respect to restrictions during this public health emergency. At that meeting it considered options to ease regulations in very specific and low risk areas, having received a detailed presentation from Nikki and obtaining her professional advice. As a consequence a number of changes were considered by the Committee that will now be further developed and take effect midnight Friday 24 April. That is a week today. Not today, a week today.

It is important to understand that we have decided does not change our core messaging and the following will not change;

  • The promotion of home working; 
  • The recommendations for the over 65s and those who are shielding to stay at home;
  • The stopping of gatherings of more than two people in public;
  • The requirement for people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes;
  • The restriction of travel in and out of the Bailiwick to essential travel only;
  • The closing of community spaces, licensed premises, hotels, restaurants, cafes, museums, libraries, places of worship and sporting facilities amongst others.

In addition, as Gavin has said, the Director of Public Health has advised that schools will remain closed until half term, although this will be reviewed over the coming weeks with a view to opening sooner, if at all possible. Nikki will explain her reasoning on that in a minute and Paul will provide further details later.

More detailed information will be provided in the coming days but I can advise now that what we are looking at doing is to enable those businesses being allowed to operate which can abide by specific public health principles and represent a low risk to the community.

At this stage we expect it will include business activities involving outside work, such as gardening and window cleaning as well as limited small domestic construction activity. Other businesses may also be able to operate if they can abide by the public health guidance. However, no business will be able to operate unless and until they register their desire to do so and provide the necessary information that satisfies us that they can abide by the guidance.

As I say we plan to provide detailed guidance to businesses over the coming week and they do not need to contact us right now. Any businesses not able to meet those requirements will not be able to operate. It is as simple as that and we will not tolerate any business trying to bend the rules in order to be able to do so. No business is being forced to operate either. Staff will be available to advise businesses with specific queries but will not provide allowances. The rules will be the rules. In addition, we will be creating a whistleblower line in order that anyone can report whether they believe a particular business is flouting the rules. We are giving an inch, we will not allow any business to take a mile for the purpose of making money. 

We are in a great place at the moment but we need to ensure as we ease our way through the exit strategy, that we continue to be in control. We need to continue to be GuernseyTogether.

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