Following recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC), and in consultation with Public Health, yesterday Ministers agreed a further short delay to moving to the remaining stage of Jersey’s Reconnection Roadmap. This step has been taken to allow more time for Jersey’s vaccine rollout and to keep the risk of transmission low to help schools safely stay open and complete the summer term. At the same time, an extension has been agreed for some sectors to claim economic support.
Ministers have agreed that while vaccination coverage continues to grow and if the risk of severe illness remains low, the remaining restrictions to Stage 7 Reconnection Roadmap will be lifted on Thursday 15 July: standing drinking will be permitted at all locations, including pubs and bars, Nightclubs will be permitted to fully reopen, including for dancing. The limit of 20 people at gatherings in private homes, gardens and outdoor spaces will be lifted.
Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said: “The decision to agree to a further short delay has been taken to allow more time for the Island’s vaccination programme to provide first and second doses of the vaccine to more Islanders. An additional two weeks will allow for most of our 18 to 24 year olds to be offered a first dose of the vaccine. It will allow for schools to safely remain open and complete the summer term whilst keeping the risk of COVID cases in education settings low.
‘Ministers acknowledge that cases of COVID are rising and will continue to rise as we manage the Delta variant on Island. However, the number of COVID cases on Island will not be used as the measure to determine the final stages of our reconnection. We have extremely good vaccination coverage, which is increasing week on week, with 93% of those aged over 50 having received their second doses and 60% of Islanders over 18 now fully vaccinated.
“Within the context of vaccination coverage, we need to reshape our thinking and approach, and look to the excellent level of vaccination protection that has been afforded to Islanders. “Ministers agree that, if we continue to see increased vaccination coverage and the risk of severe illness and hospitalisation remains low, the final components of Stage 7 will be going ahead on Thursday 15 July. This means nightclubs will reopen in full, stand-up drinking will recommence and there will be no limit on the number of people allowed in homes and gardens.”
Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: “It remains prudent that we take an additional two weeks to offer vaccination to more Islanders and to not rush the final stages of our reconnection. “Vaccination remains our best intervention to overcome the virus and enable the Island to fully reopen. If Islanders book a first dose of the vaccine by Sunday 11 July, they will receive a second dose in mid-August. I urge all Islanders who are eligible and who haven’t attended for their vaccine to please book now.”
Extension to economic support schemes
Ministers have also agreed to extend support provided under the economic support schemes, which had been due to end on 30 June.
US stocks were looking flat this morning ahead of the release of the key June jobs report. All major indexes finished in the green yesterday. The S&P 500 advanced 0.5% to 4,319.94, setting its sixth consecutive record high. The Dow Jones 30 added 131 points, finishing the session at 34,633.53.. Whilst the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.13% to 14,522.38 yesterday.
Just before midday today, The FTSE 100 climbed 0.2% with homebuilders gaining the most, up nearly 1.4%. Consumer heavyweights Reckitt Benckiser, GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever gained between 0.5% and 1.0%.
European markets were mixed today, with the GER DAX 30 climbed 0.2%, while after having gone up 0.71% last night, the FRA CAC 40 fell flat.
Hong Kong stocks fell the most in seven weeks today, as sentiment was weighed down by fears of policy tightening by Beijing and slower economic growth in the mainland. The Hang Seng index fell 1.8% to 28,310.42, while the China Enterprises Index lost 2.3% to 10,415.58 points, amid broader weakness in Asia.
UK Furlough extensions
As the economy reopened in May, more than a million workers came off furlough, leaving the scheme supporting the fewest people since the start of the pandemic. The latest figures from HMRC indicated that there were 2.4million people still relying on the scheme for their income. As the furlough measures are being phased out by the end of September, parts of the economy still restricted by Covid-19 are requesting an extension to the scheme. If this doesn’t happen then thousands of staff members will likely be made redundant.
In response to this dilemma, Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, reportedly told BBC: “the furlough isn’t simply being switched off. All we’re saying is that the employer should contribute something to the payroll, and then over time, over the next three months, the furlough will be taken away”.
From July, employers will have to contribute to furlough pay for hours not worked, starting with a 10% contribution in July and rising to 20% in August and September. Bringing the government’s contribution down to 70%, then 60%.
Confusion amongst travellers
Although more that 20 countries could be added to the green list this month, it remains to be seen whether Britons will benefit. Boris Johnson is expected to lift almost all restrictions on the 19 of July.
In the meantime, authorities have confirmed that travellers under the age of 18 going to mainland Portugal with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian will not have to be quarantined. This is following the confusion regarding Portugal’s new rules applying to minors or not. Adults however must quarantine for 14 days unless they show evidence of having received their second vaccine 2 weeks before their arrival in the country.
The biggest problem about these rules is that, with mainland Portugal currently on the amber list, those travellers coming back to the UK will have to quarantine for 10 days at their residence. Whereas, different rules apply for travellers to Madeira, which will be added to the UK’s green watch list from Wednesday. This has brought about tremendous confusion and chaos for businesses and travellers alike. All involved are naturally hoping the rules will be ironed out in time for the official start of summer.