COVID press briefing 11th June 2020 – Phase 5 announcement

I was so delighted to be able to make this statement at the press briefing on 11th June. It was a really emotional time.

Here’s what I said;

It was 79 days ago, on the 24 March that I sat here and explained to you what lockdown meant. 

Staying at home, closing non-essential shops and services, and stopping public gatherings.

I told you that you could only leave your home for 4 basic reasons; Shopping for basic necessities, Up to two hours exercise a day, a medical need and Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home. I also told you that you needed to keep 2 metres apart from anyone while you did so.

The sheer enormity of the decisions we had made earlier in the day really struck home with me that evening and is something I will never forget. I took no pleasure in having to do it. But when I spoke to you then we had absolutely no idea where things would be in a weeks’ time, let alone after a month. We were concerned about community seeding, we were concerned about testing and we were concerned with what was happening all around us. Modelling indicated if we did nothing we would see 1,800 deaths from COVID-19 across the Bailiwick. We had to lock down. This was the greatest threat to the lives of islanders since the second world war.

Since that day, we have built up our online testing capacity in superfast time, set up an amazing track and trace team that has hunted down those who could spread the virus and followed the evidence provided by Dr Brink and her team. But more than that, we as a community have really shown what we are made of. We have punched above our weight. Sadly 19 individuals have died from the disease and we must not forget that. Each of them will have families mourning their loss. However, because of the whole islands approach, the figure was not worse and we have been able to control the spread of infection resulting in no new positive cases for 42 days.

Everyone has been impacted by the decisions we have made. Some have had to make terrible sacrifices, in particular those who have been unable to see their dying relatives at the end of their lives. Others haven’t been able to run their businesses, some have lost their jobs and yet more have had to stay at home for many weeks shielding due to their underlying medical conditions. But we should all be proud of what we have achieved. We’ve supported our hospital, protected our health and care workers and saved lives, not only from COVID-19 but from other unnecessary deaths had the PEH been overrun.

GuernseyTogether hasn’t just been a catch phrase it has been a powerful call to arms. The rainbows, the claps for carers, the cakes for the public health team, the support Nikki, Gavin and myself have been given, has been incredible. The community has come together in solidarity to get us where we are today.

And it is because of all that hard work, the sacrifices, the community spirit, that the Committee for Health & Social Care has been able to make a decision on moving to the next phase.

Effective from next Saturday the 20th June, that is a week Saturday, we will be moving to Phase 5. In effect the Bailiwick Bubble. All the restrictions in terms of meetings and gatherings will be lifted. Nightclubs can open and businesses can operate as normal. You will no longer need to queue to go shopping, restaurants will be able to operate at full capacity and you can stand at the bar with your mates. We are in effect back to where we were before lockdown began albeit we have learnt over the past months the importance of being aware of your distance from others, following hygiene guidelines and staying at home if we are feeling unwell. All of which will stand us in good stead over the coming weeks.

The only restrictions that will remain will be in relation to the need to self-isolate in specific circumstances, including when travelling back to the Bailiwick, and Nikki will speak more about that in a minute. 

Now I know some of you may be asking why we’re not moving to phase 5 from midnight Saturday. Well, we shouldn’t forget that the State schools have only been open to all pupils since Monday. In line with previous public health advice, we need to see how things go even if we have not had any new positive cases for a while. We have also learnt over the weeks how businesses need time to adjust to any new changes and law enforcement need notice to ensure they are prepared and can liaise with businesses involved in the night time economy in particular. By telling you now we can see how things are going in the schools but also allow businesses to be prepared and ready at the earliest opportunity.

Finally, we have been aware that there has been an understandable desire for many to show their support for Black Lives Matter by attending an event that had been organised for this Saturday. Of course, as the law currently stands it would be an illegal gathering. Some have contacted us about it, expressing their concern because of this, including those who would like to attend such an event but did not want to break the law. However, I am very pleased to say that the organisers, having been given advanced notice of our decision yesterday, have agreed to move the event to the following Saturday. We are very grateful to them for doing this and showing their commitment to GuernseyTogether. It epitomises what I have seen over the last few months and I would just like to finish by saying thank you to everyone for what you have done to get us to where we are today. 

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