Early end to quarantine unexpected festive gift

DOZENS of islanders have been celebrating – quietly, in accordance with passive follow-up rules – an unexpected pre-Christmas freedom from Covid after the States followed England in reducing isolation from 10 days to seven.

Accountant Tom Hillion plans to relocate to Canada in January and was hoping to make the most of his time in Guernsey until Covid struck. But the change in self-isolation rules means he can see family from Boxing Day. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30341193)
Accountant Tom Hillion plans to relocate to Canada in January and was hoping to make the most of his time in Guernsey until Covid struck. But the change in self-isolation rules means he can see family from Boxing Day. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30341193)

Tom Hillion, 22, an accountant at KPMG, will be released from isolation on Boxing Day.

‘It was the boost that I didn’t know I needed,’ he said.

Public relations senior account executive Krista Osborne, 23, was expecting release from isolation today, but was relieved to be freed more than 24 hours ahead of schedule.

‘I feel very lucky because while I’ve missed the preparation for Christmas, we’re still able to see family and have our normal day. We will still be taking a few precautions but we’ve got family coming round and we will go to my partner’s extended family too,’ she said.

Mr Hillion plans to relocate to Canada in January, so was looking forward to making the most of his time left in Guernsey before Covid struck.

‘That’s the bit I was most gutted about, I was looking forward to spending every second with friends and family and having a good time before I left,’ he said.

He has found some entertaining ways to keep himself busy and make light of the difficult period, creating a ‘Covid diaries’ series on his Instagram page with light-hearted updates on his daily activities.

‘I’m gutted about missing out on family events and loads of friends coming over from the UK, but I thought I’d have some fun with it and keep my spirits up,’ he said.

On Christmas Day he still intends to do all he can to make it feel as normal as possible.

‘We were meant to be going out, but I’ve made sure my parents still do that. I’m still sending the family out and I’ll FaceTime my friends and maybe have a few drinks together and make it a bit fun. It’s not ideal, but we can celebrate another time.

‘We were originally going to cancel have family round on Boxing Day, but we’re going to go ahead with it with fewer people, because it’s better than nothing,’ said Mr Hillion.

He added that limiting the isolation period will have a positive impact on those suffering with their mental health at Christmas time.

Miss Osborne said that having missed much of the build-up, in isolation with her entire household of five, including two younger sisters, she found it hard to believe that it is Christmas tomorrow.

‘Having younger sisters it’s gutting to miss the build up,’ said Miss Osborne. ‘The biggest issue is not being able to do the last minute shopping and not being able to go browsing.’

She was due to have a small gathering with friends yesterday to exchange Secret Santa gifts, but chose not to do so to prevent any residual risk of spreading the virus.

Under the new rules, an early release from isolation is dependent on having two negative lateral flow tests on day six and seven, and individuals must then go into passive follow up for the remaining three days.

Passive follow-up has a number of restrictions, including not attending restaurants, clubs or bars, only shopping for essential food, not attending large gatherings and small gatherings under restriction, repeat lateral flow tests, staying out of care homes and healthcare settings unless in an emergency, and any return to work must be risk-assessed.

They are also not allowed to leave the island.

‘Following these measures will be a legal requirement if someone meets the criteria to release themselves from isolation, so it’s very important they’re followed or the individual will be committing an offence,’ said CCA chairman Deputy Peter Ferbrache.

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