‘A day for celebrating regaining some freedom’

GUERNSEY should celebrate as vaccinated islanders regain the freedom to travel freely into the island from the UK in the biggest shake-up to travel restrictions since the pandemic began.

Ana Pirouet, who has worked for G4S for 18 years, was busy cleaning and disinfecting the airport yesterday with more arrivals due from today as travel rules change. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29711993)
Ana Pirouet, who has worked for G4S for 18 years, was busy cleaning and disinfecting the airport yesterday with more arrivals due from today as travel rules change. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29711993)

That is the message from Civil Contingencies Authority chairman Peter Ferbrache as he reassured islanders ahead of today’s change.

Hundreds of travellers are due to pour into the island over the next few days.

Vaccinated adults from the Common Travel Area will not need to be tested or isolate, if their second jab was at least two weeks before they arrive.

Deputy Ferbrache said those most at risk were now fully vaccinated.

‘As we no longer face the same levels of risk, we can no longer justify the same levels of restrictions,’ he said. ‘It’s not proportionate.

‘By learning to live responsibly with Covid we can finally begin to regain some of the lost freedoms the virus has cost us.’

He stressed that high levels of testing in the community and of unvaccinated arrivals would continue.

If particular regions in the CTA caused significant concern, Public Health overrides could be applied, which could see additional testing or other measures brought in at short notice. This would be kept under regular review. None are in place yet.

In an open letter to islanders, Deputy Ferbrache noted that the full vaccine roll-out would be complete by mid-August. Younger people will be the last to be fully vaccinated.

Deputy Ferbrache said they were less vulnerable.

‘It’s not completely risk-free, it never will be no matter what we do. But it is a big change compared to the risk we faced before the vaccine.’

He signed off by saying regaining the lost freedoms was a cause for celebration.

Both the airport and the harbour are gearing up for a busy time.

Ports managing director Colin Le Ray said about 175 people were expected on the inbound Southampton and Gatwick flights this morning, while about 400 people are expected to arrive on Condor Liberation tomorrow.

‘We will be working with the passengers to ensure they are processed quickly,’ he said.

All travellers need to complete a Travel Tracker account in advance. A new system was due to go live last night.

Mr Le Ray said the new system might cause some delays at the airport this morning.

With little room near arrivals, people meeting travellers should wait outside or in the car park.

Masks must be worn by arriving passengers and staff interacting with them. There is not a requirement to wear masks in the rest of the airport building.

Full-time cleaners are cleaning and disinfecting the public areas, while a separate cleaning team handles the testing area.

Airport and harbour finances have been badly hit by the sharp drop in travellers during the pandemic.

Mr Le Ray said bookings over the next six weeks would help indicate future traveller trends.

‘We are forecasting a 20% reduction in 2022 [compared with pre-pandemic levels],’ he said.

The first flight from Jersey was set to touch down at 7.50am, with a Southampton arrival at 9.20am and a Gatwick one at 9.50am.

Delta variant has pushed UK cases well above those in EU

PARTS of the UK have case numbers four times worse than the worst-affected EU countries, as the Delta variant causes problems.

Spain, Portugal and Cyprus have seen some of the highest number of cases in the EU, with 101, 170 and 153 respectively per 100,000 people over the last 14 days.

Ireland, which is part of the EU and in the Common Travel Area, has seen numbers rise by 50% in the last week to nearly 150 cases per 100,000 people.

England has 271 cases per 100,000 over the last four weeks, while Scotland has 512 cases per 100,000.

Behind these numbers are regions where cases have been much higher.

In England, the north-east and north-west have 479 cases and 552 cases per 100,000 people. The situation in Scotland is worst in the east and west regions, where numbers are 616 cases and 467 cases per 100,000 people.

Aurigny is set to operate two flights in from Manchester, which is in the north-west region, on Friday and two flights in on Sunday. Meanwhile British Airways is set to operate its first service from Edinburgh tomorrow.

Guernsey is currently only offering quarantine-free and test-free travel to adults who have received their first two vaccine doses in the Common Travel Area – the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and Jersey.

This was to control the number of people arriving and also allow the States to verify vaccine data.

But many EU countries have been enjoying much lower case numbers in recent days, with cases dropping. France is now down to 38 cases per 100,000, while Germany has dropped to just 13 cases per 100,000 people.

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