15 December 2021
Competent Authority Ministers (CAM) met last night to agree new recommendations following potential emerging risks the Island faces as a result of the Omicron variant. The recommendations follow advice from Public Health in consultation with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC).
While Omicron has yet to be identified in Jersey, health officials believe the variant is likely to already be in the Island. Positive PCR tests continue to be sent to the UK for sequencing to ensure variants of concern are identified quickly.
As a result, the following measures will be introduced in Jersey:
From today (Wednesday 15 December):
- Islanders aged 18 years and over will be eligible to book their booster vaccination from 2:30pm. The expanded programme intends to offer booster vaccine protection to more Islanders as soon as possible. A booster dose of the COVID vaccine can be given 3 months after a second dose of the vaccine.
- Islanders can now access their COVID Status Certification QR codes to evidence a booster dose, which are available by calling this Coronavirus helpline
From Tuesday 4 January:
- Masks will become mandatory in indoor public settings. Ministers recognise there are certain activities where masks cannot be worn, including exercising, eating, drinking, singing and acts of worship, and Public Health will provide detailed guidance before the law comes into effect.
- Working from home will be recommended for businesses wherever a business deems this possible. When work in offices or other workplaces is necessary, physical distancing and good ventilation should be used wherever practicable.
- Businesses will be recommended to ultise the option to work from home, as part of keeping staff safe. Ministers recognise that there are circumstances where work in offices or other workplaces can continue safely, and where that can be achieved, physical distancing, testing, masks and good ventilation is encouraged.
- For the purposes of the Safer Travel Policy, the definition of Fully Vaccinated will also be updated, in light of evidence that two doses of the vaccine offers reduced protection against the new variant. From this date, passengers will be required to have received the full schedule of doses available to them. This means passengers aged 18 and over will need to have received two initial doses plus a third booster dose two weeks before they travel. Passengers aged 12 to 18 will need to have received two doses of the vaccine two weeks before they travel.
- Passengers will no longer be able to use evidence of previous COVID infection to avoid the requirement to be tested on arrival in Jersey.
- Passengers who do not meet the Fully Vaccinated status will need to take a free PCR test on arrival and will have to isolate until they receive a negative test result. The turnaround time of PCR tests results is currently around 8 hours.
Passengers who have travelled outside the UK's Common Travel Area in the 10 days before arriving in Jersey will need to be tested on arrival and then isolate until a negative result, or they can provide evidence of a negative pre-departure test, regardless of vaccination status.
These are temporary measures which will aim to reduce the spread of transmission, allowing for people to stay well to maximise booster uptake. The measures will remain under continual review and Ministers will reassess in mid-January.
Adaptions to business support measures for the industries affected by these measures are being developed, and the Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, will make an announcement on these as soon as possible.
Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said:
"We know that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains and that cases are doubling every two to three days in the UK. If this rate is replicated in Jersey, we would reach an infection peak much higher than experienced last winter and this is why we need to take action to ensure we preserve our current position and the progress we have made thus far.
"While Omicron has not yet been identified in Jersey, health officials believe it is likely the variant is already in the Island and therefore we must act quickly now.
"As an Islander, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family over the winter is get vaccinated. I personally urge all eligible Islanders to book their vaccines with the utmost priority; this is the best defence we have against COVID-19 and particularly the Omicron variant.
"We want to ensure that all Islanders can enjoy the Christmas period safely, and we must safeguard the resilience of our healthcare services. Therefore, from today, all Islanders aged 18 and over can book their booster dose. The current estimates are that the booster increases vaccine efficacy against Omicron infection to between 70 to 75%. It is vital, if three months or more have passed since you had your second dose, you go and get your booster jab.
"I would like to repeat my thanks to all Islanders for continued diligence and cooperation. By taking these steps we can continue to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in Jersey, while allowing Islanders the freedom to celebrate the festive season without disproportionate restrictions on their lives.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ivan Muscat, said: "The likelihood of the Omicron variant being in Jersey is very high and so it is very important that Islanders are taking extra precautions and care when going about their day to day lives.
"Of course, vaccination has been our main defense against COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, and is even more important in light of the Omicron variant. I strongly urge all Islanders aged 18 and over to come forward for their booster dose with the utmost urgency. If you are aged 12 and over and you have not already had your first or second dose, it is not too late, you should book an appointment today and start giving yourself increased immunity against the virus.
"Lateral flow tests (LFTs) also remain extremely important; with more and more Islanders getting vaccinated, illness is less severe if you catch COVID, so, some Islanders might be asymptomatic or only have mild flu-like symptoms. Therefore, by regularly taking LFTs before you visit family and friends, go out for dinner, or go to a party, we can identify positive asymptomatic cases and therefore reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community. If you have not already registered onto a free lateral flow testing programme, visit gov.je/testing and get a free box of tests delivered to your home."