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Regional travel controls could be confirmed today

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CONFIRMATION is expected today that travellers coming from some regions of England will have to self-isolate for 14 days from Tuesday.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28671797)

But hoteliers say it will not make much difference and are resigned to the fact that the 2020 summer season was a total write-off.

The Bailiwick’s long streak of more than four months of being Covid-free was broken at the weekend, with the discovery of a single case in a traveller, but that was not the issue that was most worrying the authorities.

Instead, there is growing concern about the marked rise in infections in the UK. Yesterday 2,659 cases were reported – the fourth successive day that the figure had exceeded 2,000.

Some hoteliers have said they were too dispirited to even watch or listen to the Civil Contingencies Authorities’ press briefings any more, and hopes of establishing the island as a safe haven this year have long gone.

Driftwood Inn managing director Jamie Le Friec said the regional classifications were unlikely to derail a recovery because there would be no recovery this season anyway.

‘I don’t think it changes where we are. You can’t have an impact on nothing, it can’t get any worse than it already is, although we’ve stayed open for the local trade and we’re grateful for that,’ he said.

‘We’ve got no axe to grind with the authorities. We agree that the priority has to be the safety of the community, but the reality is we’re really the only industry to be crippled by this, so it’s been bittersweet for us.

‘The hotel industry will need financial help to keep us through till March next year, because if was just a recession or high interest rates we could trade our way through that, but in this situation it’s impossible to do that.’

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The new Guernsey Hospitality Association will be holding its AGM next week and hopes to plot a path for the future.

They will be lobbying the newly-elected States to recognise the value of tourism, although Mr Le Friec said he was disappointed with some of the manifestos he had seen so far.

‘I’ve been absolutely amazed at how many candidates don’t have an opinion or vision on tourism or a plan forward, they don’t even have a view on Guernsey as a holiday island.’

Early this month the Institute of Directors, Chamber of Commerce and Guernsey International Business Association released the findings of a survey into the impact of the border restrictions.

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Some 55% of members said travel before the end of this year was of ‘high importance’ or ‘critical’ for their business.

However, that was before the recent surge of cases.

Chamber executive director Kay Leslie said the pandemic required constant assessment, and the demarcation of regions could be more accommodating compared to a blanket UK-wide set of controls.

‘Our over-riding focus has always been that the health of the whole community is paramount and we are also actively engaged in practical steps to help the business sector in these challenging times: for instance, we have looked at substance requirements for in-person attendance on island to see if those can be temporarily relaxed and include virtual board meetings.’

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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