No firm timescale on moving to Phase 5c

A POSSIBLE date for starting the next phase of opening up the island's borders with reduced quarantine periods for some travellers, has been described as 'weeks or even months away'.

There has been a delay on the arrival of new equipment which is needed to increase the local testing capacity to more than 2,000 tests a day.

The equipment was ordered in July, but the manufacturer has indicated that it will not arrive until the last week of September, and it will then have to go through a period of commissioning and testing before it can be used in practice.

No firm timescale has been given for the introduction of phase 5c, but more details have been released about how it will work.

Under the next phase, travellers at the airport and harbour will take self-swab tests in new testing booths, although children under 12 who attend primary school will not be required to do the test.

Work has already begun to create purpose-built testing facilities at the airport and harbour terminals, and on the east arm of the North Beach.

In terms of financial costs, the testing of travellers in phase 5c for a six month period, has been estimated at £3.7m., plus a capital cost of £600,000.

Countries will still be treated at either group A, B or C.

Passengers from group A countries will take a test on arrival, but they will still have to quarantine for 2 weeks even if they test negative.

Those arriving from group B countries, which currently includes the UK and Jersey, will be able to take a test on arrival, and as soon as they receive a negative result, they can come out of quarantine and into the stage called 'passive surveillance'.

However, they will also have to take another test on day 7, so that if they picked up the virus during or just before travel, they can be identified as positive cases.

Health and Social Care president Deputy Heidi Soulsby and chairman of the Civil Contingencies Authority Deputy Gavin St Pier. (28632775)

People coming in from group C countries, which currently is just the Isle of Man, will not have to do any testing or self-isolation.

Deputy Gavin St Pier, the chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority, said the next phase would make travel a much more viable option.

'Those travelling from group B countries will need to observe only a very short self-isolation period to allow for test results on entry at the ports to be processed, provided those tests return 'negative.’

'We have set a tight deadline for the public service to design and deliver a model for phase 5c that is ready to go, as and when the CCA decides it is right to make the change and that work is nearly complete.

'But, and it is a very big ‘but’ the CCA has not yet decided to make that move, and has not set any date as to when that should happen.

'We are mindful that phase 5c does increase the risks of Covid-19 returning to our Bailiwick.

'The mitigations which will be put in place mean that increased risk is as small as it can be, but we must still be confident that it is an acceptable risk before we make any change.

'That is partly dependent on the situation in jurisdictions around us.

'At this very moment, these do not show signs of improving.'

Deputy Heidi Soulsby, the president of Health & Social Care, underlined the amount of work that was underway to make the next testing regime as smooth as possible.

'Public Health and other health and care teams, Law Enforcement, the Ports, the civil service and our digital partners, Agilisys, have worked incredibly hard to design a model that means we can make a big reduction in the self-isolation requirements for many travellers.

'But I echo Deputy St Pier’s comments that we have not yet decided to make the actual move to phase 5c.

'Depending on how things develop in the UK, France and elsewhere, it may be some time before we do that.

'We want islanders to understand the model that will form our next step, but not to assume it is imminent.'

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