Alderney will not rush its exit from lockdown

DESPITE pressure from some Alderney residents for a 'total exit' from lockdown, the island's representative on the Civil Contingencies Authority has said Alderney will not attempt to 'rush' it.

Like Sark, which entered Stage 1 of the exit from lockdown today, Alderney can move more quickly between exit stages than Guernsey if it is deemed safe to do so.

Alderney's lead politician Bill Abel is the Alderney representative on the CCA and spelled out the island's cautious approach on the local radio station Quay FM.

He said States of Alderney members have received emails and communications asking for a 'rushed' exit from lockdown based on perceived risks with only a single managed, although still active, case of Covid-19 on the island.

'We still have an active case on the island, a situation we never expected,' he said.

'We cannot rush the process and consultation and approval is needed from both Public Health and the CCA as Alderney still forms part of the Bailiwick’s wider risk profile.

'We all need to remember that our current low risk situation is not due to luck but is as a result of a well-managed process of a rapid lockdown on January 23 followed by the requirement for travellers to isolate for 14 days on entering the island.'

The strategy for exiting lockdown is not only focused on the preservation of life but is also structured around the wellbeing of the communities and the need to get economies up and running.

There are three stages to the exit from lockdown, based on risk and Public Health and civil service capacity across the Bailiwick.

Bill Abel, who eas elected to the States of Aldetrney in a by-election in October 2020. Picture by David Nash (29244834)

'The risks for our community continue to be reduced with the rollout of the vaccination programme, together with the dedication and competence of our medical and emergency services, and the competent management by the CCA, Public Health and the Civil Services of the Bailiwick,' Mr Abel said.

'It is important to remember that if we have an outbreak we will need the support and medical services from Guernsey and this will significantly impact on their efforts to contain the current outbreak on Guernsey.'

He said the new variant of the virus is more virulent and has a higher rate of transmission than the strain faced last year.

'So any risk of the virus getting a toehold here in Alderney will put us back into lockdown, increase the strain on the Bailiwick’s health system and may lead to the loss of life.'

He stressed that States Members were trying to do their best for Alderney, recognising that while they were not medical experts, they were guided by professionals.

'From our perspective we want to both preserve life and serve the community by getting the economy up and running again.'

The CCA is expected to announce the timing of Stage 1 tomorrow (16 February), which could come as early as Thursday and will allow two households to “bubble” and outdoor gatherings of up to five people while maintaining social distancing.

Businesses will be able to operate with up to 10 members of staff for outdoor sites and up to five indoors where the work cannot be done remotely.

Businesses will be required to register online that they will be working and provide a method statement describing how they will minimise risk.

Stage 2 will allow gatherings of up to 30 people, inside or outside and restaurants, pubs, cafes and hotels will be able to operate with table service only.

Ultimately, Stage 3 will see a return to the ‘Bailiwick Bubble’ with social, recreation and business activity permitted.

Alderney's Policy and Finance committee, which is chaired by Mr Abel, has submitted proposals to the CCA on a 'faster' exit from lockdown for Alderney, for example an earlier adoption of Stage 2.

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