Client Weekly Update – Friday 18 February

Local update

The Minister for Health and Social Services has lodged a proposition to extend the COVID-19 (Enabling Provisions) (Jersey) Law 2020 until December 2022.

The current Enabling Law, which expires on 1 August 2022, allows the States Assembly to make necessary provisions as a result of COVID-19 in Jersey and introduce legislation to address challenges related to the virus.

At the end of January, Competent Authority Ministers announced a phased approach to the de-escalation of COVID-19 restrictions in Jersey. This includes a commitment to review all current legislation.

The proposed extension of the law falls in line with plans outlined by the Government to de-escalate COVID-19 restrictions. This will also enable the next Council of Ministers to review the need for legislation and bring any changes to the new States Assembly later this year.

The Minister has also proposed to expire most other COVID-19 legislation on 30 April 2022. This includes previously suspended legislation that introduced restrictions on workplaces such as face masks, restrictions on gatherings, and physical distancing measures.

The only regulations that will be retained, but kept in suspension, are those that might prove useful in the event of an enhanced risk from COVID-19, including arrangements around Safer Travel.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said:

“I would like to thank Islanders for doing their part in our fight against COVID-19. The introduction of our vaccination programme has led to a significant reduction in severe illness and minimised disruption to critical services. While we have come a long way and we are in a positive position to be lifting restrictions, it is necessary to retain the Enabling Law as a contingency measure so that action can be taken quickly to protect public health should the pandemic situation change.”

From 14 February, all PCR tests are being carried out at the Airport drive-through in St Peter as the Harbour testing centre has now been closed. The change is due to travel and border controls returning to normal pre-pandemic status, and the opportunity to use the Airport drive-through location will allow the Harbour to operate as normal and return the space currently being used by the testing team to the port users.

Any Islander who had a booked PCR appointment confirmed for the harbour from Monday 14 February should attend the Airport drive-through instead on the same day and time as advised.

Islanders are expected to use private transport to travel to the Airport drive-through and must not use public transport (bus or taxi services) Islanders are no longer required to report negative LFT results on the online portal unless it is to leave isolation early. Islanders must still register a positive LFT online and book a confirmatory PCR test.

Meanwhile, in Guernsey The Civil Contingencies Authority said that from 17th February 2022, it will no longer use emergency powers to manage COVID-19 – signalling an end to legally mandated self-isolation for cases and the removal of all border restrictions.

However, the need for vigilance has not disappeared and the Authority is urging the community to continue to act responsibly, particularly regarding the absolute need for people to stay at home if unwell to minimise the risk of outbreaks.

All islanders and employers are asked to take this important Public Health message on board and support it by not only acting responsibly themselves but also by encouraging everyone around them to do the same.

The CCA decided that it was no longer proportionate or necessary to continue utilising emergency regulations to manage the implications of COVID-19, largely because of the high vaccine uptake amongst the community resulting in very few hospitalisations due to the virus.

Furthermore, there is now strong evidence, following the recent Omicron wave, that critical services across the Bailiwick can be maintained, despite having to work through challenges. The Jersey Government has already said that it will bring an end to the restrictive Covid measures including the legal requirement to isolate even for positive cases from March 31st 2022.

The latest figures show that there are 1,857 known cases of Covid with 10 islanders in Hospital. The cases have fallen for several days in a row.

In other news wind and flood warnings have been issued for Jersey with gusts of more than 70mph set to batter the Island today although Jersey seems to have escaped the worst of the weather this morning. Jersey Met issued a red-level wind warning – the highest level of alert – ahead of the arrival of Storm Eunice.

It is warning of storm-force ten winds with gusts to 74mph. Forecasters have also issued an orange tide warning, stating that some coastal flooding may occur during this morning’s high tide. The storm system is known as a ‘weather bomb’ – a low-pressure system that has undergone explosive cyclogenesis, where its central pressure drops by at least 24mb in 24 hours.

Condor has already cancelled the Clipper service today and high-speed crossings tomorrow, just as the half-term getaway is set to begin. A replacement Commodore Clipper sailing has been scheduled from Portsmouth to the Channel Islands on Friday night which will also call into St Malo on Saturday to pick up freight and affected passengers.

Meanwhile, details of a series of events to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee have been released. They include a tea party running the full length of King Street and a special screening of a live concert at Buckingham Palace. Brief details are:

  • Wednesday 1 June: Queen’s Birthday Reception: the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Stephen Dalton and Lady Dalton will host the Queen’s Birthday Reception at Government House to start the weekend of events.
  • Thursday 2 June: As part of the coordinated national programme Jersey will take part in the lighting of a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacon. The event will be held on Glacis Field (south of Fort Regent) and will accommodate up to 5,000 members of the public. The event will run from 6pm to 10.30pm and there will be live music, food and entertainment leading up to the lighting of a virtual beacon at 9.45pm.
  • Friday 3 June: Jersey International Motoring Festival Pageant: The pageant will take place at 11am and will include a formal march past on the eastbound route of Victoria Avenue by representatives from all uniformed organisations in Jersey. The march will be followed by a drive past of vehicles representing the seven decades of the Queen’s reign.
  • Saturday 4 June: Screening of the BBC’s special live concert from Buckingham Palace bringing together some of the world’s biggest entertainment stars. Details are yet to be released.

Mixed markets

Today, the FTSE 100 made a cautious but solid start today, with the index of UK blue-chip shares opening up 17 points to the good at 7,553.93.

European markets are higher today with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 is up 0.55% while Germany’s DAX is up 0.15%.

U.S. stock futures edged up after the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its biggest one-day loss of 2022 as violence in Ukraine raised the prospect of war. S&P 500 futures were up 0.6% and futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5%. 

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.66%, while the Hang Seng led the Nikkei 225 lower. They fell 1.99% and 0.41% respectively.

Global stocks fall

On Thursday, European stocks fell dramatically as US intelligence officials reported Russia’s claims that it is evacuating troops from its border with Ukraine are false.

The FTSE 100 slid further into the red yesterday afternoon, closing 0.9% lower in London, while the French CAC fell 0.4% and the DAX fell 0.8% in Germany.

In the US the S&P 500 fell 1.2% and the tech giant Nasdaq fell 1.5%. The Dow Jones edged 1.2% at the time of the European close.

Recent reports have revived investor concerns, with the US claiming that Moscow has expanded its military posture along the border by up to 7,000 troops in the last few days.

US president Biden described the chance of the Russian invasion happening in the next “several days” as “very high.”

Brexit won’t boost the economy

According to a report, the UK’s transition toward a more limited migration system following Brexit will not provide the “high wage” economy promised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

According to the Resolution Foundation’s analysis, restricting freedom of movement will cause changes in the labour market but will have little effect on the UK economy in terms of salaries.

Over the last two decades, immigration has drastically affected the size and structure of the UK labour force.

Between 1994 and 2019, the UK labour force grew by 18% (4.9 million), with migrants accounting for more than three-quarters (77%) of this growth and EU workers accounting for more than a third (34%) of overall labour force growth.

Living costs reach new 30-year high

Last month, the cost of living reached a new 30-year high as energy, fuel, and food costs continued to rise and shops reduced seasonal promotions.

Prices increased by 5.5% in the year to January, up from 5.4% in December, putting further strain on household finances.

Inflation is currently rising faster than wages and is predicted to exceed 7% this year. The government stated that it is taking steps, but Labour is insisting it does more.

Companies have faced higher wage, shipping, and energy costs since pandemic limitations were lifted last year, which they have passed on to customers.

According to the Office for National Statistics, electricity rates increased by 19% in the 12 months to January, while gas bills increased by 28%.

Household essentials are also rising in price, with pasta up 15%, cooking oil up 16%, and margarine up 37% in the year to January, putting a strain on household budgets.