We are now into Day Two of our circuit break lockdown. Thank you for everything so many of you have already done for our Island.
Today, as well as the Director of Public Health, I have with me the Treasury Minister who would like to update you on what we are doing to support our workers, our businesses and our economy during this challenging time. We will come to this after the regular update from our Director of Public Health on cases and contact tracing.
Thank you, Henrietta. Another reassuring day. But I know there is still a long way to go.
Before I hand over to the Treasury Minister, I would like to return to the question of the vaccination programme. I know that a lot of people found it helpful to hear the Health & Social Care Minister’s presentation yesterday.
I do know that a large number of questions remain. We do not yet have all of the answers. As we have them, we will share them. Mr Ashford is on other business this afternoon but I have asked him to do another detailed vaccination briefing early next week.
I am sure he will also want to update on what the approval of the third vaccine – the Moderna vaccine – might mean for the Island.
Meanwhile, I can tell you that today we sent letters to all of our residents over the age of 80 inviting them to come forward for a vaccination. We have also sent an information leaflet explaining what is involved. A separate process is in place to arrange vaccinations for those aged over 80 who live in a care or nursing home.
While I know this circuit break lockdown has not been welcome news, I know the fact that we have been able to switch our support back on so quickly has been well received.
Just before we go to the media for questions, I would like to go over some issues that people have been asking us to clarify.
Firstly on childcare. We covered much of this earlier in the week but I think it is useful to recap. For essential workers, if their children are ordinarily cared for by going into someone else’s household while they go to work they can still do so.
And as I mentioned on Wednesday, children from separated or divorced households can still travel between both parents. This is the same as we did back in the Spring.
Secondly, there is an important issue relating to people who may be providing care to others – someone who may be vulnerable, elderly or who has a disability. The care provider might be a family member, a neighbour or a volunteer. Again we will go back to what we did in the Spring. Those people will be able to continue to provide that care - whether that is bringing shopping in or household help but – and this is important – they will need to take appropriate steps to minimise any risk.
And thirdly, a post on social media relating to Patient Transfers has caused a little confusion. This is a really important area for us so I would just like to clear this up. The question has been whether patient transfers can return to their household to self-isolate. I can confirm that there is a process where this can be allowed if there is a clinical need.
But this an exception to the rule and as such needs to be approved by the Department of Health & Social Care. The Patient Transfer Team can help people with advice on this.
We will do our best to clarify points like this at these briefings. I know there are questions. We are regularly updating our digital channels with information. If you can, in the first instance please visit gov.im/covid19 – the team have been busy all week refreshing the content and there is a wealth of information available. For general enquiries, please do not phone the COVID-111 line, which is currently dealing with a high volume of calls, including arranging appointments for the current vaccination priority group. Instead, please call the Community Support Line on 686262 or email Covid19CommunitySupport@gov.im. The team are there every day between 8am and 6pm.
I am aware there has been quite a bit of discussion on social media around businesses and construction sites in particular not following the rules. Let me be clear, our enforcement team is now active and whilst I do accept in the spirit of making sites safe, there may have been some finishing works needed where they posed a health and safety risk. I hope that they all will now be safe and secure. The message is clear. Stay at home.
One final point before I turn to the media is around the announcement this morning from the UK that they will be requiring a negative test before people travel there.
First of all, the announcement was clear that this only applies to those countries that are NOT on the UK Government’s Travel Corridor List. We ARE on that list so these new restrictions do NOT apply to us.
But this is also maybe a good time to reiterate that our advice remains that people should NOT travel off-Island at the moment unless there is an absolutely essential reason to do so.
We do not plan to hold a briefing now until Monday. If before then there are any important updates that cannot wait then of course we will let you know.
Until then, thank you again for joining us. And thank you for everything you are doing.
Over the past few days there has, I know, been a lot of information to take in. The basics, as a reminder, are:
- Stay at home as much as you can.
- If you do need to go out then wear a face covering as much as you can.
- If you have any symptoms then stay at home and call 111 as soon as you can.
Make the right decisions to keep you, your family and your Island safe. And to protect our vaccination programme.
Stay safe. Be responsible and whenever you can please stay at home.