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Alderney questions its own lockdown

Alderney questions its own lockdown

Saturday 04 April 2020

Alderney questions its own lockdown


Alderney residents are asking whether rules made under Guernsey's emergency powers can be varied for the smaller island, to address its different geography and resources during the corona virus pandemic.

As covid-19 spreads in Guernsey, while Alderney remains apparently free of the virus, residents in the smaller island have been asking whether the restrictions imposed on the Bailiwick need to be even tighter in Alderney, for people entering from Guernsey.

Alderney's only link to the outside world currently is two flights per day to and from Guernsey with the Southampton service suspended.

Alderney Representative Steve Roberts echoed the views of some residents asking whether it was time to introduce a 14-day isolation period for travellers entering the island from Guernsey.

He posited that if Alderney was kept free of the virus, some businesses could potentially start trading again.

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Pictured: States of Alderney Member Steve Roberts is one of the island's two representatives in the States of Guernsey. 

"Guernsey has become a seeded island and we don't have a confirmed case of covid-19 on this island yet. What I suggested was to put in place a 14-day isolation period for any passenger coming from Guernsey. If they then go to a supermarket on their way home, several people could get it. If we lock that loophole and we don't have any cases here, we have a good chance of recovery."

Dr Sally Simmons sent a message addressing the issue on local radio. She pointed out that very few people were still traveling per day and the majority were people on medical appointments.

"Those who have are going on medical appointments for treatments, for example for cancer, and they're very clear about the risks to their health... and they're
taking advice about going straight home," she said

She also pointed out that channels between Alderney and Guernsey also needed to be kept open for specialists like gynecologists to visit the island.

Alderney's shops are largely small independents and residents will visit different shops for different products - alcohol for example is not sold in supermarkets. In addition single shops will often be a hub for a variety of services and goods, such as pet food and garden equipment.

James Dent, chairman of Alderney's Policy and Finance Group, sits on the Bailiwick's Civil Contingency Authority and he has taken an oath not to disclose anything discussed within its meetings.

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Pictured: James Dent (file image). 

A strategy group meets by video conference each day where health professionals, civil servants and emergency crews discuss issues of the day.

This week the States of Alderney addressed the various suggestions made for how regulations might be varied.

"We all have our own opinions as to the usefulness or practicality of the measures that are being implemented– some think they go too far, others think they do not go far enough," they said in a statement.

"They are not, however, arbitrary and are all based on the known science.

"We also hear of many suggested additional measures. All are clearly well-intentioned, but implementing them without a clear understanding of the consequences, might be dangerous. Please be assured that all the measures to protect us have been carefully considered."

Currently in Alderney three supermarkets – two branches of Le Cocqs and Jean's Stores – are open for grocery shopping, along with the pharmacy, the bank, two petrol stations, two off licences, the post office and fishmongers. 

Jean's Stores this week said it might have to close its doors to the public unless people stopped coming in on a 'daily, casual basis'. Its resources were already heavily strained with the volume of delivery orders and it was difficult to cope with a steady stream of people at the tills.

Helen McGregor, co owner of Highland Titles, took out a page in Alderney's local paper, The Journal, to make a plea for more stringent measures to prevent people returning from Guernsey introducing it into the island.

However, the Island's senior police officer said in the main, residents were obeying the message to stay at home for other than vital trips.

Sergeant James Taylor said the public response to the restrictions on daily life had been fantastic.

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Pictured: Alderney Police Station. 

Each day the police, helped by officers from the Border Agency, have conducted high visibility patrols of the island's streets, its airport and port, to ensure people adhere to current restrictions.

"When the restrictions came into place we saw waves of people returning to Alderney who wanted to meet up with people they had not seen for a while and you got the feeling they were going to try to have parties," said Sergeantt Taylor. "It was up to us to make sure that those social gatherings did not take place and that social distancing was maintained.

"There have been a few ambiguities about which restrictions apply in Alderney when people have returned to the island but it's been part of our rule to ensure that they do apply and that they adhere to those restrictions.

"We've noticed the public are adapting and changing to the situation, such as five people in the shop, six feet apart . After an initial period of panic buying there was a rush of people there but they seem to have got an idea of the rules and regulations now."

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Pictured: St Anne's Church, Alderney. 

With St Anne's parish church closed, regular worshippers – largely elderly – last Sunday embraced technology to participate in a service using a video conferencing app.

"It was great," said churchgoer Philippa Arditti. "There were about 10 of us and we were able to follow the service and join in with the responses.

"Life goes on," she said.

Pictured top: The island medical centre will do 'drive through' testing (inset) - here demonstrated by Dr Sally Simmons in the car. This is by appointment only.

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