As Covid prevalence rates continue to rise across many parts of the UK, there is evidence to show that the Delta variant is more transmissible than other variants, and the reduction in efficacy of the vaccine after both doses is significantly reduced.
However, the reduction in efficacy of the vaccine after both doses is less severe.
Public Health and the CCA is concerned about this and has therefore agreed to make changes to the plans for travel from 1 July. The situation will be reviewed every two weeks.
The move to a Green, Amber, Red system [in line with the UK's travel rules] is being postponed and Guernsey will continue with the current 1 - 4 categorisation of countries and regions, based on 14-days' prevalence data over seven consecutive days.
A new Blue travel category will begin on 1 July, in light of how effective the vaccine is against the Delta variant for those who are fully vaccinated [both doses and two weeks after their second dose].
This means that people who are fully vaccinated will be able to arrive in the Bailiwick from the UK or other parts of the Common Travel Area without the need to test or self-isolate.
People travelling from the UK or other parts of the Common Travel Area who are not fully vaccinated will continue to be subject to the category requirements, based on prevalence rates in the country or region they are travelling from.
It is expected that all adults in the Bailiwick who choose to have the vaccine will be fully vaccinated by 17 August.
CCA chairman Deputy Peter Ferbrache said the pandemic, as it has for the past year, continues to present unexpected challenges.
'Therefore we could not make any guarantees about 1 July. But of course, we had hoped we would be able to move ahead with the plans as we had set them out and it is disappointing to see the data from across other parts of the British Isles,' he said.
He apologised to those who were looking forward to the removal of travel restrictions, who will now have to wait a few more weeks.
But he was glad for those who were already fully vaccinated who could travel freely to the UK.
'We’re very aware this decision may feel unfair for those who’ve not yet had the chance to be fully vaccinated. But we’ve made this decision, based on evidence, with the aim of allowing as much unrestricted travel as possible while ensuring we maintain reasonable measures to prevent people becoming seriously ill and requiring hospitalisation, avoid the need to re-introduce [non-pharmaceutical interventions] and avoid a third lockdown.'
Although he wished the Bailiwick was in a position to safely lift more travel restrictions as planned, given the circumstances, he hoped islanders would understand the need for this temporary measure.
Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink said variants of concern such as the Delta Variant are one of the key variables Public Health has known that have the potential to force a change in plans.
'The next few weeks are going to be critical as we see if the current increase in infections in the UK stabilises or worsens,' she said.
'However, the evidence available to us now gives us enough concern to pause to allow for more of our population to be fully vaccinated. It also stresses the importance of getting our community fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.'
More to follow