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Incoming travellers will continue self-isolating for 14 days until at least September

News | Published:

TRAVEL to the Bailiwick without mandatory isolation could restart at the end of the summer, the Civil Contingency Authority has today announced.

Health & Social Care president Heidi Soulsby. (28455483)

There has been no new positive cases of Covid-19 in Guernsey since the end of April and investigations are now underway to move Guernsey to phase six - the Bailiwick's return to the global community.

A Civil Contingencies Authority meeting agreed that they will look at a criteria for travelling on compassionate grounds, health grounds and business ground, without needing to self-isolate for 14 days.

The last would allow essential business travel to Guernsey to take place on day returns, without the need for mandatory self-isolation.

Exact details still need to be drawn up and a date for the new business tunnels commencement will be announced shortly.

With quarantine-free travel, it was confirmed that this would not be introduced before 1 September, and neither would the seven-day isolation trial be extended before then. If this is to be introduced in the autumn, it will depend on the prevalence of the illness in other countries.

Planning is also taking place to prepare for the re-emergence of a single case or the re-emergence of a cluster of cases, which cannot be effectively contained by test, track and trace, as well as a second wave of Covid-19 in the Bailiwick. Winter planning for normal winter influenza is also needed, which may be complicated by a second wave of Covid-19.

Health & Social Care president Heidi Soulsby said that moving through the planned phases of lockdown was not without risks. But they were working to minimise these.

'The fact we have no known cases in the Bailiwick is not making us complacent, but we do know that our extended testing scheme has not identified asymptomatic cases in the community,' she said.

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'This gives us some reassurance that the community is continuing to practice good hygiene measures, respiratory etiquette and social distancing where possible. Whilst certain restrictions have been placed on our borders, they have not been totally closed at any time, as from day one we have needed to allow essential workers to travel to the Bailiwick.'

She said that they appreciated allowing free travel without quarantine would concern some people.

'Working with Dr Brink and Public Health Services we have assessed the data on Covid-19 collected on-island, along with data from other jurisdictions, to put together a safe and managed plan to open up our borders in a controlled fashion,' she said.

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink noted that today was the last day of the pilot scheme, where incoming travellers are tested on day seven of their arrival into the Bailiwick.

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'The first day seven swabs will be taken tomorrow,' she said.

'However, in the meantime, we have recommended a series of measures are introduced sooner for the benefit of the community. From a Public health perspective, we are anticipating moving to the further easing of travel restrictions later in the autumn, as long as we can be confident of the prevalence of infection in our neighbouring jurisdictions.'

She continued to urge anyone with symptoms of the illness to get tested.

Civil Contingencies Authority chairman Gavin St Pier said it was in everyone's interests to quickly and safely exit lockdown.

'We are in a strong position with regard to Covid-19 which has enabled an air bridge to be established with the Isle of Man, which has proven to be extremely popular with both islands,' he said.

'This initiative has allowed 1,000 visitors from the Isle of Man to enjoy our island and benefit our visitor economy. We have also been able to introduce the pilot scheme with a test on day seven after arrival.

'Again, as we have said before, we cannot stay in fortress Guernsey or fortress Bailiwick until we have a vaccine. It is because of this that the CCA agreed yesterday to introduce a series of measures immediately, based on a full appraisal of any risks, for the benefit of the community.

'We know people will have mixed emotions about these decisions and I can reassure the community that these are considered, evidenced decisions and I would ask the community to continue to trust us. If we see positive cases occurring as these measures are introduced they should not panic. Dr Brink and her team are now experienced with ‘test, track and trace’ and have the resources and skills to manage individual cases or clusters of a certain size without the need to push back to an earlier phase.'

Full details of the pathway to phase six can be found shortly at https://covid19.gov.gg/guidance/exit.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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