Non-essential travel and contact between different households to resume on 30 May for phase four
ISLAND life will return to near normal on 30 May, as Guernsey moves into phase four of the island's exit strategy.
It has been 22 days since there was a case of Covid-19 diagnosed in Guernsey and there are currently just two active cases in the Bailiwick.
The move will allow restrictions on contacts between different households to be lifted next week, as well as many businesses to reopen.
Non-essential travel will be allowed to take place, but the 14 day self-isolation period will remain in place.
The near-eradication of the illness locally has resulted in the early easing of the lockdown.
Health & Social Care president Heidi Soulsby said thanks to the community's support, Guernsey was able to move to the next phase sooner than originally planned.
'Due to the significant changes that phase four 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,' she said.
'As well as enabling the vast majority of businesses to re-commence operations, including all retail, hairdressers and beauticians, phase four will also allow public venues, including museums and cinemas to open, subject to social distancing and hygiene guidelines being followed.'
In addition, restrictions in relation to contacts between households and those outside the household will be lifted, although it will be expected that people continue to follow social distancing and hygiene advice as this will become more
important than ever as Guernsey moves to a new normal.
Non-essential travel will be allowed, subject to the need to self-isolate for 14 days on return to the Bailiwick.
'We are conscious that people are desperate to travel to meet new babies that have been born during lockdown or to see relatives who don’t live in the Bailiwick,' Deputy Soulsby said.
'I am therefore delighted that we have been able to make this happen now.'
Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink said announcing the phase four message early would enable people to prepare and also give 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,' she said.
'Commencing phase four on 30 May 2020 means we will have had 14 days in phase three 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.'
Anyone with symptoms, however mild, is urged to get tested.
'Please don’t think you don’t want to adversely influence our results,' Dr Brink said.
'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.
'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’.
Civil Contingencies Authority chairman Gavin St Pier said it was in everyone's interested to end the lockdown as quickly and safely as possible.
'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,' he said.
'Moving into phase four 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.'
He said it was inevitable that the latest announcement would result in islanders speculating about off-island travel, without 14 days self-isolation.
'We know there is a pressing need for this to return to normal as soon as possible,;' he said.
'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 four can be found here: https://covid19.gov.gg/guidance/exit