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Sark brings its islanders home

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SARK’S last repatriation boat docked in the island yesterday, bringing to an end almost all travel to and from the island.

View of Sark Lighthouse from the Sark Belle. (27800493)

There will now be no travel to the island, except by some essential workers.

Pandemic emergency committee chairman Sam La Trobe-Bateman said there had been about a dozen repatriation boats in recent weeks, with yesterday’s final boat bringing over about four people.

Now Sark Shipping will operate a freight-only service three times a week, except in exceptional circumstances.

Mr La Trobe-Bateman said Sark was following Guernsey’s example.

‘People have had ample time to come back,’ he said.

‘This is not a bad place to isolate, as everywhere else becomes more difficult to get to, so we needed to draw a line somewhere.

‘That way, within two weeks, we will know that no one has it.’

The island has seen an influx of university students and islanders who work away from home returning to Sark.

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Key workers will still be able to travel, by arrangement. This could include health staff or specialist professionals, for example if urgent work was needed on Sark’s power station.

But with an older population, Mr La Trobe-Bateman said they had to take the situation seriously.

The island’s new locum is set to arrive this week. But she will have to go into two weeks’ quarantine before starting work because they cannot risk spreading the illness.

Mr La Trobe-Bateman welcomed the States of Guernsey’s clarification on which businesses could operate, noting that many people on Sark had several jobs and if gardeners were allowed to work then between 60% and 70% of people would have been back at work.

A hardship fund has been set up on the island to help people in financial difficulty and Mr La Trobe-Bateman said there had been several generous donations to help islanders.

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