COVID press briefing 22nd May 2020 – Phase 4 announcement

I made the following statement at the press briefing on 22nd May.

Last week I advised you all that, because of the amazing work of the whole community we could move fully to Phase 3 together with piloting the opening of a restricted class of businesses ahead of the introduction of Phase 4.

Since then, as Deputy St Pier has said, we have seen no new cases and the active cases have continued to fall to the extent that we expect them to disappear very soon. There is no evidence of any community seeding, there is no one in the hospital with COVID-19. We are in a fantastic position. 

Because of this, the Committee for Health & Social Care agreed this week based on advice from Dr Brink and the public health team, that we were in a position to move to Phase 4 in our easing out of lockdown. Perhaps cantering out of lockdown is a better phrase given how things have been moving recently.

Now, this is quite a significant change, which will require a lot of work before we can make it happen. My Committee will need to agree revised Directions which will be more than just tinkering at the edges with what we have currently got. Guidance will need to be produced for a range of businesses and organisations and the specific changes will need some clear communications for the whole community. It is for these reasons that we are proposing that we move to Phase 4 from next Saturday 30th May.

So, whilst we will still need to firm up details I would like to give you a flavour of what moving to phase 4 means.

Businesses unable to operate fully or under social distancing restrictions in phase 2 and 3 Will be permitted to operate under increased hygiene requirements. Such businesses may include elements of construction that require multiple individuals working in close proximity to perform a task. 

All retail businesses, hairdressers and beauticians can re-open, subject to continued cleaning and hygiene requirements being in place. PPE will not be required. Restrictions on the numbers of people allowed in any premises will be necessary to comply with social distancing.

Some business elements may be restricted if they present a particular risk (for example changing rooms may be closed, fitting of clothes or activities that require physical contact will be restricted)

Restaurants, hotels, cafes, beach kiosks and pubs serving food will be permitted to open with social distancing and hygiene requirements both in public facing areas and kitchens. Restaurants will need to amend layouts of tables to ensure this can be achieved. There will be restrictions on standing at bars within restaurants in line with pre ‘lockdown’ restrictions which seem such a long time ago now.

Where specialist Contractors from the Bailiwick have to be used, there will be strict conditions put in place which will include a legal requirement to only move between their place of work and a specified place of residence.

Public venues, including sports venues, churches and community centres, museums, theatres and cinemas may be permitted to open with restrictions on the size, nature and duration of activities.

Non-contact sports and fitness training for other sports may recommence, including indoor activities. 

Gyms, fitness studios, swimming pools and health suites will be allowed to operate, with additional hygiene requirements in place.

Outdoor children’s play areas can open but NOT indoor play areas just yet.

More people will be allowed to attend weddings and funerals subject to social distancing and hygiene measures. Other gatherings will also be permitted, including congregational services, but again subject to a maximum number and social distancing and hygiene measures being in place. 

And bubbles will be a thing of the past with the only restrictions being that the size of gatherings, whether inside or outside will be limited. To give you an idea of what we mean by limited, we are looking at around 50 for weddings and funerals and around 30 for other gatherings.

Travel for non-essential purposes will be permitted, subject to those returning going into self-isolation for 14 days.

There will be no requirements for businesses and organisations to register for phase 4 but they will be expected to follow guidance relevant to their activities.

In addition to the above, there will be concurrent changes to arrangements in the care homes with limited visits being allowed. More private health and wellbeing practitioners will be able to operate and new arrangements will be put in place in the hospital.

So, these are considerable changes with almost everything going back to a new normal bar pubs and clubs, contact sports and a few other things. However, and this is a really important point to make and follows on from what Deputy St Pier said at the start. We will only be able to make these changes if things continue as they have been. That will require us all to continue to follow the current public health advice and in particular social distancing and hygiene guidance. Now is not the time for complacency. If we find that things go in the wrong direction across the next few days we will reconsider whether now is the time to make these changes. We are entering into the home straight, we don’t want to fall at the last hurdle. We can and must get to the finishing line as quickly as possible, but only if we all continue to be GuernseyTogether.

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