The significant easing of Covid-19 border restrictions was announced yesterday by the Civil Contingencies Authority. Instead, travellers will undergo a test and release procedure.
The move follows concerns that there was no method for people to travel from category two regions in the UK to the island because air services from Exeter and Bristol to Guernsey are not resuming until July.
So from Friday, people who have been in a UK region with very low Covid numbers for the previous 14 days before their journey will need only to isolate until they have received a negative test result on arrival. A further test will be needed on day seven.
Until the change, no UK ports with existing scheduled Guernsey links were in regions with low enough rates to qualify.
‘Today the CCA has met and agreed that an exception to this should be applied to Southampton Airport and Portsmouth and Poole ferry ports, which have been, and continue to be, key travel corridors for commercial air and sea journeys to and from the Bailiwick,’ a States of Guernsey representative said.
‘The CCA has also reviewed the current criteria for the categories, including the [Covid] prevalence thresholds, but has agreed to make no change to those currently applied.’
Poole is in the southwest region, which is currently category two, but if the Covid rate rises there, the travel relaxation would allow people from lower areas elsewhere to travel though the port without facing stricter rules.
How the system is policed was raised at an earlier CCA media briefing, with concerns that some passengers arriving might lie on the travel tracker form to avoid more onerous quarantine measures.
CCA chairman Peter Ferbrache said then that it was a risk, but to do so was a criminal offence.
‘They could get prosecuted and get very severely punished,’ he said.
‘But of course you’re relying on people’s good faith and good sense. So there could be no absolute guarantee, but we say to those that may be thinking of [it], if they’re caught... this is a jurisdiction that will severely punish them.’
The CCA will hold its next live Covid-19 briefing at 1pm tomorrow to give a detailed overview of the categorisation criteria and the modelling used to determine how these are set. Some confusion exists about how it works.