COVID press briefing 19th June 2020 – Phase 5 begins!

It was with such delight that I was able to make the statement at the press briefing the day before Phase 5 began. The next day I went to the peaceful Black Lives Matter event in St Peter Port with Gavin St Pier and Dr Nikki Brink. Later that day I was on Sky News talking about the fact we no longer had any on-island restrictions. What a day!

Here’s what I said;

It has been 50 days since we had our last positive case. Yes, despite all the rumours that have gone around the island the last few days no new cases for 50 days. It was Winston Churchill who said that a lie will get halfway around the world before truth gets its pants on and that does seems to have been the case over the last week. So no new cases and no causes for concern either, since we announced our intention last week to move to phase 5. 

So, I am incredibly pleased and delighted that as of midnight tonight, all local restrictions will fall away and we will be in our Bailiwick Bubble. 

The directions that HSC have had in place will fall away and will we no longer need the emergency powers vested in us by the CCA. This is a real cause for celebration and I would like to thank everyone, for getting us to this place today.

It doesn’t mean our job is over however. Not only will we be constantly be monitoring the local situation and being briefed by Dr Brink, but we also will need to be focused on getting health and social care services back up to speed. Clearly some services have been considerably disrupted because of the measures put in place to mitigate a potential threat of infection from COVID-19. I would just ask you to bear with us as we get things back to normal. 

Now, a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the Committee for Health & Social Care was looking to undertake a survey to understand your experiences over the last 3 months. We want to capture this information whilst it is still fresh in people’s minds, understanding what you see as the positives or negatives of the restrictions, whether you faced additional or different challenges and what we could’ve done better. Not only will this be useful should we ever have to go back into earlier phases and I really should emphasise that as a big IF. But also it can help us in how we can do recovery better. Please take part in the survey. It will be available online as well as in paper format and in 4 different languages. We want as many people as possible to take part so we can build on what we have learnt from the community monitoring tool which has helped us to understand the impact of lockdown and added to our considerations both in terms of how we eased out of it, but also what we needed to focus on in the immediate future. Look out for the links online and through traditional media. If there is one thing we must have all learnt from this crisis, something that Dr Brink has made clear time and time again, is the importance of evidence and your information will form a very important part of that evidence for the future. So please take part and think Dr Brink!

OK so what are my personal reflections. Personally, I think it is too soon for me to properly put into words what the last 3 months have meant to me. The dust really hasn’t settled enough for me to really articulate it as well as I would like. History will tell whether we have done the right thing and I am sure hindsight will show where we should have done things differently.

But here are a few of my thoughts based on how I see things now.

I am relieved things have gone as well as they have. And so delighted for everyone in the Bailiwick that tomorrow we can celebrate life without the restrictions we have placed on you all, even if travel is still difficult. It will be a fantastic day indeed.

I thank you for the sacrifices you have made that have got us to where we are today. I am sorry for the sacrifices that you have had to make to get us to where we are today. I am responsible for you having to make those sacrifices and I apologise to those of you for whom it has just been too much. If there is anything that I have struggled with over the last few months that has to be it to be perfectly honest with you. Whilst I know we made the decisions that we believed were right based on the evidence we had and the advice we were given, I know that doesn’t mean it has come without cost. It is something I have thought about continually.

What I can say though, is that no decision that any of us has made these last 3 months has been made lightly. The days and nights have been intense and none of us ever expected we would face such a situation in our lives. I think Gavin said early on that the only one who had signed up for this was Dr Brink and I’m grateful we have had her to support us through this.

However, what I can say is that what you’ve seen over the last 3 months, a group of us here working together telling you as it is straight, openly and transparently, is not a media concoction. It is real. We have worked together throughout this in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. That doesn’t mean everything has gone perfectly, or that we have just nodded at what each other has said. We have challenged each other. We really have, we have also listened and respected each others’ views. It hasn’t been easy as the decisions have been far reaching, but everyone has worked calmly and in a considered way. The positivity has shone through.

There have been tough times. Back to back virtual meetings for days on end – CCA, HSC and back again over hours, in between virtual States meetings, and then press conferences. It’s been beyond exhausting at times. But I am so grateful I have gone through this with the people here today, as well as those around here you can’t. There aren’t a better bunch of people you’d want to be working with in a crisis I can tell you.

I guess though, more than anything what sticks in mind is the amazing community response and the support you have given us. The rainbows in the windows, the claps for carers, the support groups and the fact you have trusted us. I have been truly humbled and I will never forget it, thank you so much.

We’re not out of the woods yet, and we know we can’t stay in splendid isolation forever, but continue to trust us, when we say we have still got this.

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