The Civil Contingencies Authority has been reviewing its plans for moving further through the phases of the exit from lockdown, in light of rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in all of the Bailiwick's neighbouring jurisdictions and around the world.
Currently the Bailiwick is in Phase 5b, which is life as normal, except for significant restrictions at the borders.
The CCA previously set out a model for the next phase, ‘phase 5c’, which would have seen the introduction of testing on arrival. It would also have meant that arrivals from Group B countries would not be required to self-isolate after receiving a negative result from the test taken on arrival.
However, in recent weeks the prevalence of Covid-19 in all our neighbouring jurisdictions, and notably in the UK regions where the Bailiwick has its main travel links, has risen considerably, and it appears unlikely that this trend will be turned around in the very short term.
The re-modelled Phase 5c will see the introduction of testing on arrival for the vast majority of islanders coming into the Bailiwick, and will see countries split into four categories.
By introducing four categories, the first – Category 1 – will be for countries and regions where there is no requirement for any travel restrictions, as is the case currently for only the Isle of Man.
Category 2 will introduce a category where arrivals coming from countries with a low prevalence of Covid-19 cases (between 0 and 30 cases per 100,000 of population) can enter Guernsey and, provided they take a test on arrival, they would only be required to self-isolate until they receive an initial negative result. Once that negative result is confirmed, they will then come under rules for ‘enhanced passive follow-up’.
‘Enhanced passive follow-up’ is described in more detail below, and will put significantly more restrictions on arrivals than the current ‘passive follow-up’ rules.
Abiding by ‘enhanced passive follow-up’ requirements will be legally enforceable.
Arrivals from categories 3 and 4 will also be tested on arrival, but in most respect they will be similar to our current Group B and A countries, where there will be a requirement for arrivals to self-isolate for 7 or 14 days respectively.
The CCA intends to move into this amended phase 5c shortly. Final ‘dry-run’ testing is currently underway and the intention is to formally introduce the new phase 5c arrangements on Monday 26th October.
In practical terms, this will initially mean that testing on arrival is available for arrivals from Category 3 and 4 countries.
At this time there are no jurisdictions with direct links to Guernsey that would meet the criteria for Category 2.
With the risk level in all neighbouring jurisdictions rising, the reduction of self-isolation periods will not be seen immediately, but there are other significant benefits that come with testing on arrival, such as the ability to begin contact tracing those who were on board an aircraft or vessel more quickly.
However, the CCA stressed that those concerned about rising cases in the UK, France, Jersey and elsewhere should not see this move as any less safe than the current travel restrictions. Based on the current prevalence rates in the UK, all arrivals would still need to self-isolate for either 7 or 14 days.
What is 'enhanced passive follow-up'?
In the revised Phase 5c, arrivals from Category 2 countries who test negative in their day of arrival test, will then be subject to ‘Enhanced passive follow-up’ rules until their day 7 test.
Category 3 arrivals will also be subject to these rules if they test negative on day 7, until day 14.
Enhanced passive follow-up means the person cannot go to indoor venues such as restaurants (including those offering al fresco dining), clubs, cafes, pubs, gyms, swimming pools, theatres or cinemas. They can only go to indoor shops for the purpose of buying essentials such as food or toiletries.
They must not attend any gathering of more than 10 people. If they attend any gatherings of fewer than 10 people, it should be in a room exclusively used by that group with controlled toilet facilities and a record should be kept of those attending for 14 days.
They may not use public transport, unless it is a taxi with the appropriate mitigation in place to protect the driver.
Those working in public facing roles (i.e. retail assistants, receptionists, teachers etc) cannot return to work while under enhanced passive follow-up.
Other workers should inform their employer to ensure they carry out a risk assessment and put in place any necessary measures. Children in enhanced passive follow-up must not go to school.
Anyone in enhanced passive follow-up is strongly advised to wear a facemask and practice social distancing when they are outside their home, including at work. They should also always observe good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.