Weekly Client Update – Friday 3 December

Local update

Businesses and households have been urged by senior government officials to take the right precautions – including wearing face masks and using lateral-flow tests – to ‘keep Jersey open’ over the Christmas period. During a Chamber of Commerce webinar yesterday, Alex Khaldi, director of public health policy, told attendees that the government’s strategy had shifted towards giving organisations and individuals the ‘tools to keep them safe’ as the Island moved into the winter months.

At the moment, the government has not issued orders for compulsory home working or mask-wearing in indoor public places. Mr Khaldi said that it was ‘crucially important’ that Islanders used the tools at their disposal to control the spread of the virus during the run-up to the festive season. He said: ‘We have been shifting our strategy very strongly towards giving businesses, organisations and individuals the tools to keep themselves safe.

‘Our more general advice remains that we’ll be seeking to promote vaccination as the very best way for Jersey to become protected from Covid-19. We are encouraging strongly the use of masks and would encourage you to encourage your customers to do the same. ‘The question of whether legal force should be applied to mask-wearing is still under consideration. Lateral-flow tests and knowing your Covid-19 status are crucially important. There really is no reason why any Islanders shouldn’t have access to self-administered tests at the moment. He added that companies should encourage their workforces to take regular lateral-flow tests.

From today, Jersey starts its rollout of the new expanded vaccination programme. This follows the latest guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

From today 3 December at 00:01:

  • the booster dose interval for all Islanders aged 40 years and over will be reduced from 6 months to 3 months. This means any Islander who received a second dose 3 or more months ago can book a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine
  • second dose appointments for Islanders aged 12 to 15 years old will open 12 weeks after their first dose. Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be given at the Vaccination Centre and not as part of the school programme
  • booster doses (fourth doses) for all immunosuppressed Islanders. The vaccination team will be making contact will all Islanders who are immunosuppressed to arrange an appointment for a fourth dose.

Booster doses for remaining Islanders aged 18 to 39 will be administered at the Vaccination Centre from the start of 2022. These doses of the Pfizer vaccine will also be offered three months after a second dose. The vaccination team aim to offer an appointment to all eligible Islanders before the end of January.

The number of Covid cases continues to rise in Jersey. As of today, there are 1,363 cases with 6 islanders in hospital. Guernsey has also seen a rising number with nearly 900 known cases as of today.

As a result of the expanded programme to provide more COVID-19 vaccines, the flu vaccine is no longer available at Fort Regent but will continue to be offered by GPs and pharmacies. The flu vaccine remains free of charge for all Islanders in at-risk flu groups, including all Islanders aged 50 years old and over. Competent Authority Ministers have agreed on new measures in response to the emergence of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron. The recommendations have been made by Public Health in consultation with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell.

Enhancements to the Safer Travel Policy

From today, 3 December, passengers aged 11 and over arriving in Jersey who have travelled outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) in the 10 days before arriving in Jersey, will be required to isolate until they receive a negative PCR test result, regardless of their vaccination status. This measure aligns with the UK’s requirements for arrivals from outside the CTA. Islanders registered on the Home Testing Programme are recommended to take a lateral flow test after travelling back to Jersey.

Passengers arriving in Jersey are still able to submit evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before travelling to Jersey. This will avoid passengers needing to test and isolate when arriving on the Island.

Mixed markets

Just before midday, the FTSE 100 index was up 0.7% or 52.89 points to 7182.10. British Airways owner IAG continued its recent improvement, up 2.68p to 135p. The shares were 154.3p before the discovery of the variant and closed as low as 127.5p at the beginning of the week.

The FTSE 250 index improved 150.48 points to 22,835.32, with EasyJet 2% higher.

European markets are lower today, with shares in Germany off the most. The DAX is down 0.24% while France’s CAC 40 is off 0.17% and London’s FTSE 100 is lower by 0.02%.

Dow Jones futures were 0.15% below fair value today, while S&P 500 futures slid 0.2% and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 0.2%.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Nikkei 225 gained 1.00% and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.94%. The Hang Seng lost 0.31%.

Survey shows surging inflation

According to a study released on Friday, the highest inflation pressures in at least 23 years hampered the recovery of British services industries from the COVID-19 epidemic in November and lowered expectations for the following year.

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) decreased to 58.5 in November from 59.1 in October, with the preliminary “flash” estimate of 58.6 revised down marginally.

The survey’s measures of service providers’ expenses and prices charged to clients reached their highest levels since records began in 1998, which some Bank of England policymakers may interpret as supporting the case for an interest rate rise at the bank’s next policy statement on December the 16th.

According to the PMI, new orders increased at the quickest rate in five months, boosted by the tourism industry following the lifting of shutdown restrictions.

Even before most of the organizations who were surveyed last month, learned of the Omicron form of COVID-19, optimism had dropped to a one-year low.

The composite PMI, which combines the services survey and the manufacturing PMI released on Wednesday, fell to 57.6 in November from 57.8 in October.

Christmas parties cancelled in UK

Fears over the Omicron variant are causing companies to cancel Christmas parties in droves, with warnings of a “catastrophic” hit to hospitality during the high holiday season.

Due to the spike in instances of the new variation across the UK, bars, restaurants, and venues are requesting financial help for the industry. Parties are being cancelled and large events are being scaled back.

Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night-time economic adviser, has joined a rising chorus of appeals from the hotel and tourist industries for the government to provide assistance by fixing VAT at the reduced rate of 12.5% for two years.

He told Sky News that earlier this week’s advice from UK Health Security Agency director Dr Jenny Harries that individuals should not socialize unduly was “catastrophic for the sector.”

Jersey combats drunk driving

In Jersey, with Christmas parties going ahead, the local emergency services have begun a coordinated effort to combat drunk driving. 

The yearly campaign attempts to increase awareness about the hazards of drunk driving and to minimize the number of islanders who do so.

During December, there will be increased police patrols around the island to target drunk drivers either on the day itself or the morning following. On social media, the movement is using the hashtag #NoneForTheRoad.