The Bailiwick will enter phase 4 of its lockdown exit from Saturday 30 May, after coming close to eliminating all trace of covid-19 locally.
With no cases yet confirmed in Alderney, Sark, Herm or the private islands of the Bailiwick, and no new positive test results in Guernsey for more than three weeks the decision has been made to move quickly though phase 3 of the exit plan.
There are still two active cases of the corona virus locally, but no one has tested positive in 22 days, with no sign of any community seeding of the virus since 21 April.
Deputy Heidi Soulsby, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care said this good news means the lockdown exit strategy is being amended quicker than first planned.
Pictured: The latest available data from the States of Guernsey, as at 13:00 today.
"The way the community has continued to support us means we can once more move into the next phase quicker than expected," she said at lunchtime during the live streamed press briefing.
"Due to the significant changes that Phase 4 brings, HSC has decided to announce this in principle decision today to give businesses, organisations and the wider community time to prepare ahead of the new arrangements in a week’s time."
Bringing on Phase 4 by the end of this month means hairdressers and other salons will be able to open, along with more shops, cinemas and museums, subject to social distancing and hygiene guidelines being followed.
More personal contact between households is also coming from next weekend, and the ban on non-essential travel is being lifted.
Pictured: Phase 4 will see a number of the lockdown restrictions relaxed.
"Non-essential travel will be allowed subject to the need to self-isolate for 14 days on return to the Bailiwick," said Deputy Soulsby. "We are conscious that people are desperate to travel to meet new babies that have been born during lock down or to see relatives who don’t live in the Bailiwick. I am therefore delighted that we have been able to make this happen now."
Director of Public Health, Dr Nicola Brink said local data is still being constantly analysed and she urged everyone not to panic any more positive cases of covid-19 are confirmed.
"We have just completed the first week in Phase 3. Announcing this message early to enable people to prepare and also gives Public Health Services another week to monitor the results that we are getting from our sampling programme. As you are all aware, the incubation period for COVID-19 can be up to 14 days. Commencing Phase 4 on 30 May 2020 means we will have had 14 days in Phase 3 and will be certain of the epidemiology.
"I would like to reassure the community that if we see positive cases occurring again they should not panic. It is possible that there may be islanders who have shown no symptoms who have had COVID-19.
"We know islanders have been watching the statistics daily and are waiting for the day that we get to zero. That will indeed be a momentous day. However, it should not be seen as a failure if we find other positive cases. Indeed, that will be a sign of success in that our ‘test, trace and quarantine’ in identifying cases."
Pictured: Deputy Heidi Soulsby, Deputy Gavin St Pier and Dr Nicola Brink have been at the forefront of the Bailiwick's response to the pandemic, alongside others including Paul Whitfield and Dr Peter Rabey.
Dr Brink also confirmed anyone with any symptoms are still being tested, so if you have any concerns you should still come forward.
"If anyone has any symptoms, however mild, they must come forward to be tested. Please don’t think you don’t want to adversely influence our results. We know we will get more positives and from my perspective that is a good thing. If we know about them we can track and trace and contain them to protect the rest of the community.
"Our strategy remains the same ‘test, trace and quarantine’. It continues to be effective as evidenced in the lack of new positives and the low number of active cases.
"We have commenced our extended testing programme to proactively seek out cases by targeting certain key workers who we are testing regardless of any symptoms of Covid-19."
Deputy Gavin St Pier, Chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority said:
"As I have said before, it is in all our interests to end the lockdown as quickly and as safely as we can. We will continue to be led by the advice of Public Health but we are currently in a very strong position and have got here much more quickly than we could reasonably have hoped.
Pictured: Guernsey's hospital hasn't been overwhelmed and the island has 'squashed the curve' so successfully that it is moving towards elimination.
"Moving into Phase 4 will see a return to near normal life for the community. All that remains for Phase 5, and a return to a Bailiwick bubble, will be pubs and clubs opening and the return to contact sports.
"Inevitably this announcement will result in Islanders speculating how long before off- island travel without the need to self-isolate for 14 days is a possibility. We know there is a pressing need for this to return to normal as soon as possible. Obviously we need to balance the risk bearing in mind the COVID-19 situation of our near neighbours. However, we cannot stay in fortress Guernsey or fortress Bailiwick until we have a vaccine, which may never emerge. We are actively discussing how off- island travel can recommence safely and will update Islanders as soon as we can as plans evolve.’
Full details of what has been included in Phase 4 can be found HERE.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.