‘Thank you for making this such a special place’
A Christmas message from Policy & Resources president Peter Ferbrache to the Bailiwick of Guernsey
I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to write a few words to our Bailiwick community at this very special time of year. It is also a time where we face some new developments in our ongoing battle with Covid-19, uncertain of precisely what will come next but ready to respond.
In my opinion the first thing to emphasise is the strength of our community. This has been, for most, a challenging year. Just over three weeks into the year I, as chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority, had to announce a second lockdown – it was a lockdown that came upon us very quickly. Although in time it was of shorter duration than the first, it was almost more stressful and onerous. People were exhausted, they had withstood the tribulations of the first lockdown superbly and complied with all the restrictions placed upon their civil liberties. The response to the first lockdown showed our community spirit was second to none.
Then comes the second lockdown. Undoubtedly and understandably people found the new lockdown and its strictness very difficult. It put, for many, real strains on mental health.
Despite that, yet again our remarkable community responded so well. Covid-19, though, is still with us, a new variant has arrived in the islands and we are working fast to protect our community through our booster programme, which follows the roll-out of first and second doses earlier this year.
The uptake of vaccinations has been superb and it is extraordinary to see how they have changed our ability to live with Covid-19. We saw at the end of this year a ‘wave’ far bigger than that experienced in February, yet with far fewer cases requiring hospital care. There can be no doubt now the vaccine has been a game-changer and as we prepare for the uncertainty of Omicron we protect ourselves best by getting that booster.
Our economy has proven to be extremely resilient, but I do appreciate the stresses and strains that a number of our business sectors are enduring now, and the Omicron wave will put more pressure on some who are already contending with labour shortages and dealing with the administrative consequence of Brexit.
Any business that has not yet looked at its continuity plans for the coming weeks and the potential steep rise in cases, I implore you to do so now – do not delay.
I am confident that because of the remarkable people that make up the population of this Bailiwick we will meet these challenges. 2022 is going to test us again, but I believe it will prove to be a better year than 2021.
One of the few good consequences of Covid-19 is that we have been able to discover again the beauty and quality that is Alderney and Sark. We are so lucky that they are part of our Bailiwick.
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the very special contribution made in nearly six years’ service by our recently retired Lt-Governor, Sir Ian Corder. He continued in the long line of the holders of this office who have represented the Bailiwick so well. He was ably supported by Lady Corder, who committed herself throughout her time here to so many Bailiwick institutions. On behalf of us all I thank them and wish them a happy retirement in Norfolk. They will always be our friends and welcome in the Bailiwick.
I also thank the very many public servants of all descriptions and private individuals who have worked hard and unselfishly to ensure that we can live our lives in as normal a way as possible and with far less interference from the public authorities compared to many other places around the world.
I very much hope that those of you who will be spending time with family and friends have a good Christmas. For those who are isolating this Christmas, you have my gratitude. It cannot be easy, but by doing so you are preventing further cases of Covid and slowing the spread of the virus.
I would also ask that we think of those who for other reasons may be spending Christmas alone. If we can give them some of our time over the festive period let us do so. My thoughts and best wishes are with them and even if they are on their own, we will be thinking of them.
To each and every Bailiwick resident, I conclude by saying thank you for making this such a special place.