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Ministers announce next stages of Covid reconnection

05 March 2021

Ministers have outlined the next stages of their plan to reconnect Islanders by relaxing more of the existing Covid measures. This decision takes into account the low number of daily positive cases, as well as advice from public health officials and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC). 

Ministers have already announced that controlled outdoor sports gatherings can restart for up to 35 over-18-year olds from Monday 8 March, and children aged five and under are exempt when counting the number of people allowed to gather together.

Competent Authority Ministers have now endorsed the following tentative stages of further relaxation, all of which will depend on positive cases remaining low and updated advice from medics and health care officials:

From Monday 15 March – stage 4

  • Soft play facilities will open for groups of up to ten children
  • A maximum of ten people will be able to meet in each other’s homes and gardens
  • singing, playing woodwind and brass instruments in groups of ten indoors will be permitted
  • Gyms can reopen and indoor sports activities like swimming can resume – guidance will be published before this date to support the sector with safe reopening

From Monday 12 April – stage 5

  • outdoor gathering limit will increase to 20 people
  • Islanders can start to return to their workplaces, with 2-metre distancing and other mitigations still in place
  • close contact sports, including martial arts and rugby, can resume indoors and outdoors
  • more spectators will be able to attend sporting events
  • alcoholic drinks-only table service will resume for the hospitality sector 

From Monday 10 May – stage 6

  • Islanders will be able to meet, indoors or outdoors, in groups of up to 20.
  • wedding parties and wakes of up to 40 people will be permitted.
  • The limit on indoor singing, and the playing of brass and woodwind instruments, will be raised to 20, with an audience of up to 40.
  • Spas and jacuzzis will be able to reopen.
  • Guidance on working from home will be fully lifted, and physical distancing requirements will reduce to one metre.
  • the physical distancing order will be discontinued – to be replaced with guidance. 

From Monday 14 June – stage 7

  • Places of worship will be able to welcome back their full congregations. 
  • Theatres, auditoriums and cinemas will open
  • nightclubs will reopen, live music and dancing will be permitted, alongside standing drinks service
  • Large events will be permitted, subject to metrics and risk assessment. The exact size and scope of these events will be determined in a few weeks, once more data on our vaccination programme is available. 

At Stage 7 there will be a thorough review of all COVID-19 guidance and legislation, to ensure it remains proportionate to the risk. Some essential guidance may continue, to ensure Islanders remain safe and to prevent any resurgence of COVID. 

The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said: “Public health officials and STAC have spent the last two weeks developing proposals for a detailed reconnection plan, based on our vaccination and active case figures. We want this cautious return to normality to be a one-way route to regaining our freedoms. We do not want to reimpose restrictions, so it’s important that we leave enough time in between each stage of reconnection for STAC to be content that it is safe and appropriate to move forward. 

“The threat from COVID-19, despite our world leading vaccination programme, has not gone away. But Islanders should congratulate themselves on getting us to such a good position and protecting our most vulnerable from the physical harms of the virus. The end is in sight, but we cannot ignore the guidance that is still in place. We are moving away from these restrictions gradually and carefully, and I would like to urge Islanders to remain careful so we can continue to make good progress.”

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: “I am sure Islanders will welcome these plans to reopen our community. I want us to be able to reconnect and resume normal life as soon as possible, but it is critical that we follow the clear stages set out in these plans. 

While the risk from household mixing remains high, we recognise the wellbeing needs of Islanders. When mixing with others in homes and gardens it is safer to meet the same small group of people, rather than many different people. We will be assessing the impact of vaccination and the number of positive cases as we approach each new date on the roadmap.

“Our vaccination rollout is moving ahead at pace, and we have now delivered a first dose to more than thirty thousand Islanders. These figures represent a comprehensive rollout to some of our Island’s most vulnerable people and I want to thank everyone in the vaccination programme for their determined effort bringing us to this point.

“We are now reviewing the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s recommendations for vaccinating people under 50 years old, to help inform the next stage of Jersey’s vaccine roll out. We will be announcing our plans for this next stage in the coming weeks.”

Minister for Economic Development, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “I am pleased that we can continue our return to normality by announcing these further relaxations of our existing restrictions. But these dates are a guide. They will be subject to constant review by the medics and, if we are still finding few or no cases with a high rate of testing, we will consider bringing things forward. Conversely, if our situation deteriorates due to clusters or outbreaks, we will delay things. 

“So it is clear that we must continue to adhere to the guidelines as we move through the reconnection stages, or we risk moving backwards. It is critical that everyone maintains the compliance that has been evident as we reopened hospitality. This is the only way to ensure the success of our vaccination programme, and a permanent return to normality.”

Plans for reconnecting the Island through the Safer Travel Policy, and the reintroduction of a traffic light system for travellers arriving in Jersey, are due to be considered by the Council of Ministers. An update on the border policy will be announced in the coming weeks.

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