The Civil Contingencies Authority will publish a ‘Bailiwick Blueprint’ today setting out the next steps towards living with covid-19 without the need for legal restrictions.
The Authority hopes that – with the possible exception of the borders – the pandemic could be managed through recommendations and guidance only and not through emergency legislation from as soon as 17 February – just three weeks from now.
The ‘Bailiwick Blueprint’ will include plans to liberalise lateral flow testing, PCR testing and contact tracing and “work towards the removal of mandatory self-isolation for positive cases with people being asked to stay at home if they are a symptomatic case”.
The Chairman of the Authority, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, said: “The regulations which are before the States [today] were made on 18 January and some amendments were made [yesterday]. If the States approve them, the main ones, if I can call them that, will run out at midnight on 16 February.
"That doesn’t mean there won’t be some more because it depends on what happens between now and then. But the intent at the moment or the aspiration, which I hope we can meet, is that matters will continue by guidance thereafter.”
Pictured: In recent days, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, Chairman of the Civil Contingencies Authority, has announced the removal or relaxation of a raft of covid rules and regulations and hopes to announce further such measures in the next few weeks.
As part of what it calls “de-escalation”, the Authority last night removed all remaining mandatory requirements to wear face coverings, although they are still recommended in enclosed spaces and crowds and where there is poor ventilation. The Authority also scrapped enhanced passive follow-up rules for people who come out of isolation less than 10 days after testing positive.
Less than 48 hours after students and staff were allowed to remove face coverings in classrooms, the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture made face coverings a recommendation rather than mandatory in communal areas of schools and removed the expectation on parents to wear masks while on school grounds.
The latest changes – effective from midnight – follow other recent moves towards greater freedom in the Bailiwick, including lifting guidance to work from home, cutting the minimum period of isolation for positive cases to six days and liberalising rules for incoming travellers.
“It’s an exciting day for us as we look forward and look to the future," said Dr Nicola Brink, the Medical Officer of Health.
"After two years of having to manage the unpredictable and changing threat presented by covid-19, to reach this stage is very encouraging. It's down to the cooperation and commitment from all islanders.
"Covid-19 has not gone away, but we're in a good position to change how we manage this infection.
"We expect to see more cases of covid-19. Indeed, we may see a further wave of infection. As before, we will work with islanders, asking for their cooperation to respond to any increasing risk rather than rely on the reintroduction of formal restrictions."
Pictured: Dr Peter Rabey, Medical Director of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, said that medical and public health colleagues were strongly in support of the relaxation of covid rules and regulations agreed by the Civil Contingencies Authority.
Deputy Ferbrache once again thanked the public for their patience and support in dealing with covid-19 and said "we have come a long way over the course of the pandemic".
"Thankfully, things have changed. The dominant variant, which only came upon these shores on 9 December, is now waning as far as we can see," said Deputy Ferbrache.
“Covid has not gone away. We may see further waves and we’ll certainly see new variants, but we believe that with prudence and with good sensible actions on the part of all of us we can handle them with less need for rules and more for guidance.”
The Authority's most senior advisors, Dr Brink and Dr Peter Rabey, Medical Director of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, took the unusual step of revealing that the Authority's latest changes and its 'Bailiwick Blueprint' are unanimously supported by public health and medical professionals consulted by the Authority.
"We’ve been meeting and discussing this over the past week," said Dr Brink. "What we were considering was the de-escalation of measures and I’m pleased to say these were unanimously supported by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell and are strongly endorsed by public health [officials]. We really are enthusiastic about looking at how we can move forward."
Pictured: The latest covid-19 testing figures, which were released by the States yesterday, showed a slight increase in the number of known active cases of covid-19, which now stand at 452.
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