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Further talks are needed on Iceland air bridge idea

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AN AIR BRIDGE between Guernsey and Iceland will not happen soon after a video conference call with the country’s UK ambassador resulted in ‘the hope of exploring the idea further’.

Guernsey’s chief minister Gavin St Pier had a virtual meeting with the UK ambassador to Iceland, Stefen Haukur Johannesson, to share experiences of dealing with Covid-19, and discuss the similar issues now facing both jurisdictions with lockdown restrictions easing. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Guernsey’s chief minister Gavin St Pier met virtually with the ambassador of Iceland, Stefan Haukur Johannesson, on Monday to share experiences of dealing with Covid-19, discuss the similar issues now facing both jurisdictions as lockdown restrictions are eased and travel restrictions are reviewed, and deliberate over the potential of creating an air bridge.

Guernsey and Iceland adopted similar Public Health strategies, including tight border controls and a ‘test, trace, isolate’ model.

‘I was pleased to speak to the Ambassador of Iceland to the UK today to discuss our governments’ respective responses to the Covid-19 pandemic,’ he said.

‘Work is continuing in Guernsey, as in other jurisdictions, to develop and manage our economic recovery strategy, and in particular to review the current border restrictions that were put in place to safeguard the health and wellbeing of islanders, to identify potential ways to start safely lifting these restrictions.

‘While we have been dealing with our response on-island, the global nature of the pandemic has illustrated how important it is to be able to share our learning and experiences with other jurisdictions who are facing the same difficult decisions as us, and I was pleased to have that opportunity today.

‘I look forward to developing and strengthening our relationship with Iceland over the coming months and hope that we will be able to explore further the possibility of establishing an air bridge.’

There have been just 1,900 people in Iceland known to have contracted Covid-19, with only 13 active cases left and 10 deaths reported.

As well as the proposal to explore the possibility of establishing an air bridge between Guernsey and Iceland, their discussions also covered matters such as ongoing testing regimes and considerations for safely opening up borders, including screening programmes for testing at the border.

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First secretary of the Icelandic embassy in London, Thury Bjork Bjorgvinsdottir, confirmed the meeting went well.

‘We will not be issuing a statement regarding the meeting, but I can confirm that the ambassador had a very pleasant discussion with the chief minister,’ she said.

‘The people of Guernsey are welcome to Iceland as tourists and it makes no difference if they have the Channel Islander stamp or not in their passports.’

The States has confirmed they are also seeking to engage with the Faroe Islands to discuss a similar proposal.

. The discussions come on the back of the popularity of the air bridge between Guernsey and the Isle of Man which, although initially having flights planned between 22 July and 30 August only, was extended to 13 September due to high demand.

Danielle Kenneally

By Danielle Kenneally
News reporter

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