Opening up

GUERNSEY is opening its borders for vaccinated travellers from Britain and Jersey from next Thursday – despite the UK’s deteriorating Covid situation.

The Civil Contingencies Authority confirmed it was pushing forward with the relaxation for the blue channel – which covers the Common Travel Area – and warned that there would be Covid cases in the island in future.

It will, however, be introducing testing for people aged between 12 and 17 who are not vaccinated.

‘The CCA is keen to reassure islanders that under the travel rules from 1 July, the probability of a third lockdown or of health services being overwhelmed remains very low,’ a States of Guernsey spokesman said.

‘This key point in the overall strategy, as we move to living responsibly with Covid-19, is finally possible because of the excellent progress of the vaccination roll-out.’

So far, 57% of people aged over 16 in Guernsey have had two vaccine injections, while 27% have only had one.

This helps prevent serious illness and hospitalisation, but does not prevent all cases.

The government spokesman said an elimination strategy would not be sustainable indefinitely, nor would it be appropriate or proportionate. Thanks to Guernsey’s high vaccination levels and effective measures to detect and manage cases, the risks to the community were low enough to enable Guernsey to live with Covid.

‘The modelling indicates the difference in risk of moving forward with a blue channel for fully vaccinated travellers on July 1 versus early or mid-August is extremely small,’ he said.

At no point would unrestricted travel mean no risk at all – it would always be a case of minimising and managing it.

Even after all the adult population was vaccinated there would still be the risk of outbreaks, he said, but it was likely that such outbreaks would be manageable and the impact relatively low, especially compared with those triggering lockdowns.

Children arriving in the island follow the same restrictions as their parents. There were concerns about unvaccinated young people with parents who had received the jabs not needing to quarantine.

This has led to a new rule that 12- to 17-year-olds need to test on arrival and quarantine until they receive the result. They will also be tested again on day seven.

‘Recent data from Public Health England shows under 18s are one of the age groups in which Covid-19 infections are most commonly seen,’ the spokesman said.

‘Guernsey’s Public Health Service have therefore now advised that this age group, which is not currently being vaccinated, should be tested on arrival in the Bailiwick.’

Allowing them to leave self-isolation after a negative test result, however, recognised and reflected the lower risk of transmission to or from the adults they had been travelling with. They were typically parents of the under-18s and those adults were fully vaccinated.

Most arrivals into Guernsey have faced restrictions since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The current situation in the UK means that almost all arrivals are currently having to self-isolate for at least seven days.

Over the last week, the 14-day total in England has risen from 149 per 100,000 people to 175 cases. But in some regions it is much higher, with north-west England at 432 per 100,000 people.

The rise has been driven by the more transmissible Delta variant and this led the CCA a few weeks ago to restrict plans for totally free travel within the CTA to just free travel for vaccinated individuals.

Adults who have not been jabbed and those travelling from outside the CTA will still be subject to quarantine based on the number of cases in their region or country.

The CCA will hold its regular live briefing tomorrow at 1pm.

Do you agree opening the borders to vaccinated individuals from the UK on 1 July is the right move? Go to https://guernseypress.com/news/2021/06/23/border-relaxation-to-go-ahead-next-week/ to take part in our survey.

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