Time to allow vaccines to get us moving

ANOTHER Covid deadline is nearing which may well equal frustration for our community.

The Civil Contingencies Authority was last night considering what it would be saying at 2pm today as we ‘look forward’ to the reopening of our borders from 1 July.

It is a difficult call for the CCA. Guernsey wants to play things safe. Our leaders and medical advice have been that way for more than a year. Very few will be wanting the island to rush into what might be perceived to be unsafe, or risky, change any time soon.

With Covid stats on the rise again in the UK, the Guernsey travel trade is nervous that the hoped-for reopening of their businesses might be stalled. Few, if any, visitors will be prepared to spend a holiday isolating in a hotel room, probably for longer than they had actually intended to stay in the island.

Jersey, where the borders are open, has been perceived to be doing well so far this summer, but now has 17 active cases, mostly travel-related, but also including community transmissions. The island has pushed the final lifting of its Covid restrictions back a week to 21 June and yesterday scrapped amber classifications for visitors coming into the island – effectively offering an open invitation to fully-vaccinated visitors.

‘The issue is not number of cases,’ said CCA adviser Deputy Heidi Soulsby this week on social media. ‘We need to live responsibly with the virus, but [the issue is] whether our health services can cope with expected numbers, based on vaccination levels and taking into account variants of concern.’

Any prospect of a short delay to reopening borders is likely to achieve next to no benefit, unless we are advised that a certain level of community vaccination is essential in the current, inflamed, Covid climate.

However our community has largely become immune to risk-taking over the past 15 months.

So while we are delighted with and keen to celebrate the success of our vaccination programme to date, the time is rapidly nearing when we need to place our trust in vaccines for islanders and visitors to do their jobs, and allow us all to return to the new ‘normality’.

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