COVID press briefing 24th April 2020 – ‘Back from the Brink’

I made the following statement at the press briefing on 24th April.

So tomorrow, we enter Phase 2 and the start of our exit strategy. Someone told me the other day, and apologies to Nikki, that they thought it could be described as Back from the Brink. 

Further to comments Paul has just made, I’d like to thank all the staff across the States of Guernsey who have enabled it to happen. It is has been quite a logistical exercise requiring considerable cross-departmental working.

The message remains, as we all know, to STAY AT HOME if at all possible but I’ll just mention briefly those categories of business that will be allowed to operate subject to strict conditions as of Saturday;

  • Gardening, building and other trades with no household contact; 
  • building wholesale and supply;
  • Vehicle servicing, maintenance and repairs (including cars, bikes and marine); and
  • Property sales, rentals & transactions

Changes have also been made in relation to the number of employees allowed to carry out non-essential work on office premises, subject to meeting social distancing and hygiene requirements.

Now we have had a range of other businesses asking to be included. These will all be considered, either for the next phase, or on an exception basis. In respect of the latter, we have had a request from a business that supplies the building trade which has advised that it could not operate with a maximum of 5 workers across what is a large site. HSC has granted an exception on the basis that the site can be split into separate work zones with a maximum number of employees within each zone. Others were also considered today by HSC and will be notified shortly and more will be looked at next week.

However, there will be few exceptions as we need to undertake this phased release in a logical and systematic way. I know how frustrating this is for many but it is important that we manage the process in a structured rather than haphazard way.

As I said on Wednesday, we are also looking at a transitional plan for recreational activities and expect that to be published early next week.

I do think it is an opportune time for me to send a thank you to those who haven’t had much of a mention recently but deserve to and that is my Committee. I think there has been confusion as to who actually is having to make the difficult decisions here. It is not the CCA. The CCA that comprises Deputies St Pier, Lowe Brehaut and myself, provides the powers to various bodies to take action in the fight against COVID-19. With regard to the nature of lockdown and easing restrictions of lockdown, it is the Committee for Health & Social Care. We make our recommendations based on the advice received from Dr Brink, but also taking into account other relevant matters, such as how any changes can be managed and the implications in terms of wider requirements, for instance by allowing commercial gardeners and construction industry, we needed to know that the waste facilities could operate. It is not a simple job and neither is it an exact science.

I am therefore very grateful to Deputies McSwiggan, Prow, Tindall and Tooley, together with the staff who have been supporting us, for the hard work they have put in reviewing Directions and Guidance and for their thoughtful challenge. Above all I thank them for their calm and considered approach during a period of what has been incredible change and where we have had to make momentous and incredibly difficult decisions at short notice for the benefit of the Bailiwick. It is a team effort.

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