Decisions about any further easing of Covid measures in Jersey will not be based on developments outside the Island, a leading health official has said.
While Guernsey announced earlier this week that the ‘emergency’ phase of the pandemic would end from next Thursday, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was planning to lift the self-isolation rule for people with Covid ‘within weeks’, Dr Ivan Muscat, deputy medical officer of health, said that local circumstances were the key factor for Jersey.
He said: ‘The Omicron wave in Jersey began after the UK and therefore we are at a different stage and will be taking the position here into account when making decisions for Jersey. There is no point basing our decisions on activity that is happening in another country.’
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the last remaining domestic rules, including isolation, could be eased earlier than the previously announced date of 24 March. The Prime Minister said he would present his plan for ‘living with Covid’ when parliament returns from a short recess on 21 February and he indicated that as long as the data remained positive, the legal duty to self-isolate would be lifted a month earlier than planned.
However, a Government spokesman clarified in a briefing with journalists that Downing Street would not be recommending people to go to work if they tested positive for Covid.
Jersey has started de-escalating Covid measures over the past ten days, including lifting the legal requirement to wear facemasks, the end of work-from-home guidance and the suspension of the safer travel policy.
The legal requirement for anyone testing positive remains in force and is due to be lifted by 31 March.
In a week that saw the island’s Chief minister Deputy John Le Fondre isolating with Covid there are still 2,156 known cases with 8 islanders in Hospital.
At a briefing in Guernsey earlier this week it was announced that the emergency powers that have been in place for almost two years would not be renewed when they expired on 17 February.
Instead, Guernsey’s border restrictions will end, as will the legal requirement for positive cases to isolate, with ministers urging people to ‘do the right thing’ for their community by staying at home if they are unwell.
The recommendation to take a daily LFT before school is due to be eased in Guernsey after Wednesday 2 March.
From Monday 7 February, all the current requirements under Jersey’s Safer Travel policy were suspended, with a return to unrestricted, pre-pandemic inbound travel arrangements, including:
- removal of all testing and isolation requirements for all arriving passengers
- removal of the requirement to complete a pre-departure travel form before arriving in Jersey for all passengers
This change is one of a number of measures announced by Competent Authority Ministers relating to the de-escalation of Jersey’s COVID-19 measures. The changes follow advice from Public Health in consultation with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC) People travelling outbound from Jersey should continue to check the travel requirements of the country they are travelling to.
If required, Islanders can access their COVID Status Certificate and QR codes demonstrating their vaccination status through the portal on covidsafe.gov.je. If Islanders are under the age of 16 or unable to access the portal, they should ring the Coronavirus Helpline.
Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said:
“Ministers have agreed to suspend all border restrictions which means that people arriving in Jersey no longer need to complete pre-departure forms or be tested on arrival. Travel will return to pre-pandemic arrangements. This decision aligns with the de-escalation of COVID-19 measures. It is in line with the latest advice from STAC and our Public Health officials and is proportionate to the much lower levels of risk in Jersey. Removing our border testing will make it easier for families to visit and see loved ones, for students to return home, for visitors to once again travel freely, and for friends to reconnect. I would like to thank all staff who have worked so hard over the past two years to design, manage and operate our border policies and testing. Our Safer Travel Policy received international recognition and was only possible thanks to the commitment from staff and cooperation from Islanders and visitors.”
And finally, on a lighter note, A Crocodile with a motorcycle tyre stuck around her neck for six years has been freed by an Indonesian bird-catcher in a tyreless effort that wildlife conservation officials hailed as a milestone.
The 14.8ft female saltwater crocodile had been spotted in the river Palu in the Capital city of Central Sulawesi, with the tyre becoming increasingly tight and threatening to choke her.
Conservation officials had been aware of the issue since residents spotted her in 2016, generating sympathy worldwide. The 35-year-old bird-catcher and trader, Tili, strung ropes into a trap tied to a tree by the nearby river and using live bait of chickens and ducks waited patiently for 3 weeks until the croc fell in.
With the help of friends he then sawed through the tyre. The Crocodile was then safely released back into the wild!
The FTSE continues to be in the red this morning, down 0.8% points at 7,608.
European markets were also lower today. The CAC 40 is down 1.51% while Germany’s DAX is off 1.10%
U.S. stocks were well into the red on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 500 points, or 1.5%. While the S&P 500 was down 1.8% and the Nasdaq Composite, lost 2.1%.
Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Nikkei 225 gained 0.42%, while the Shanghai Composite led the Hang Seng lower. They fell 0.66% and 0.29% respectively.
Economic growth for 2021 strongest on record
Early government estimates show that the economy increased at its fastest annual rate on record in 2021, despite the knock December took due to Omnicron.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the rate of growth between October and December – the fourth quarter – was almost unchanged from the previous three months, at 1%.
This was despite the fact that GDP decreased by 0.2% in December, compared to the previous month, which was marginally better than economists had predicted.
The ONS cited lost business for hospitality and consumers bringing forward Christmas purchases to October and November in anticipation of supply chain disruption, as well as tighter COVID rules – including guidance to work from home – which was implemented in December to protect the NHS in the face of record case numbers.
According to the ONS, this meant that the GDP increased by 7.5% in 2021, though it was still 0.4% below its pre-pandemic peak in the fourth quarter.
All of its data are subject to adjustments in the future, but the rebound in 2021 came after the worst drop in 99 years in 2020 – when the epidemic initially took hold – sending significant portions of the economy into hibernation as lockdowns were implemented for the first time.
Ireland announces €300m support package
The Irish government has unveiled a comprehensive package of measures aimed at reducing the rising cost of living for households.
Each home in the country will receive a £169 credit to cover heating costs, and public transportation rates will be reduced by 20%. The lower rail, bus and tram fares will remain in effect until the end of the year. Those who claim the fuel allowance will receive an additional £105.
Ireland’s ministers for public expenditure, Michael McGrath, and finance, Paschal Donohoe, revealed the £253 million plan this week at Government Buildings in Dublin. According to the government, when these measures are combined with those outlined in the budget, a total of €1.5 billion will be spent to alleviate the effects of inflation.
The proposals, according to opposition parties, are unlikely to go far enough to address the issue. Despite a strong economy, Irish consumers are increasingly feeling financially constrained.
The European Commission (EC) raised its projection for Irish inflation this year from 3.1% to 4.6% today. The European Commission anticipates that the Irish economy will increase at a rate of 5.5%, fueled in part by the spending of significant household savings from the pandemic period.
Beer sales suffer as people opt to drink at home
According to the British Beer and Pub Association, about 1.5 billion fewer pints were sold in British pubs in 2021 than in 2019.
According to the BBPA, pub beer sales were down 38% in 2021, with an on-trade loss of £5.7 billion due to beer sales alone.
Trading was down 55% in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic levels.
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Beer is the most popular drink that is sold in our pubs. But when people are drinking at home, they seem to be choosing higher strength products. That is a concern and a worry – not only for the survival of our trade and our pubs but, of course, in terms of health and helping people moderate their consumption”.
Anticipation of overnight ferry to Jersey
A conventional ferry service providing nightly voyages to Jersey might be operational by the end of the year, according to a senior minister, which the government may consider investing in.
Guernsey politicians made a surprising statement last month, revealing that they had secret talks with Condor about jointly purchasing another passenger and freight ship to serve the Channel Islands.
Jersey ministers were taken aback by the announcement, given they had previously been involved in conversations with the operator and Sarnian officials over the fleet’s future.
Today, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham stated that, despite the government’s earlier opposition to investing in transport, he was willing to investigate all ideas to guarantee the Island had ‘resilient sea links’.
In a separate interview with the JEP, Condor chief executive John Napton said that the airline was expecting a busy summer, with ongoing high passenger numbers to the UK and demand for the French route up to 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Olympic legend earmarks Jersey for summer fitness camps
Decathlon Olympic gold medalist, Daley Thompson is looking at Jersey as a venue to run a variety of fitness boot camps this summer – before keeping a close eye on Team Jersey’s performances at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Thompson spent this week exploring Jersey’s beaches and sports facilities with the idea to launch a new version of his ‘Daley Fitness’ training programs on the island in June. And, in collaboration with Strive Health Club and Santander, the Team GB legend, aims to provide direct advice to residents of all levels and abilities.