Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today.
We are now into Day 7 of our circuit break lockdown.
As well as the Director of Public Health who is with us on Zoom, the Minister of Health & Social Care is here with me today. I will ask him to cover today’s numbers.
Also, I know there has been some questions about the number of tests and the live cases. I know that the Minister also has some other updates to share, including about shielding.
Thank you, David.
Just before I hand over to our Director of Public Health for an update on contact tracing, I would just like to pick up on a point that some people have written to me about how we notify people about locations that are of concern to us.
We have tried a couple of ways of doing this. At a previous briefing, Dr Ewart read out a long list of venues with times. People told us that there was too much detail to be read out like that. On Monday, we said that there were new locations and we published the list after the briefing. People then told us that we should have read it out at the briefing.
We know we cannot please all of the people all of the time. But we do listen. We will always release information relating to venues of concern as soon as we can. This is of course the right thing to do. The quickest way to do that will usually be through social media and in a news release. If we need to discuss any venues in more detail at a live briefing like this because they are of particular concern then we will do that.
A good moment to hand over to Dr Ewart for her update.
Thank you, Dr Ewart.
I know there are a lot of people working long hours on this. I am very grateful for everything you and they are doing.
I have said on a number of occasions that I have every faith that we can rid ourselves of COVID in our community. We did it before. We can do it again.
As I said on Monday, government of course has a role to play in this. We have a responsibility to ensure that our health and social care services have everything they need to be ready for what might be ahead – including in the roll out of the vaccines. We have a responsibility to support our workers and our businesses to weather this stormy front. We have a responsibility to sometimes make tough and unwelcome decisions on restricting the lives of our people.
I know it can be easy to look back sometimes and say 'why didn’t you' or 'what if you had'. But as we have covered in these briefings – and as I am sure you have seen on the media in relation to other jurisdictions – knowledge about the virus, its impact, its behaviour and therefore how best to deal with it are constantly evolving.
I was struck by Dr Ewart’s comments the other day at how much more transmissible the new variant can be. If no mitigations – like a lockdown – are in place. While we are still waiting for conformation that the new variant is what we are seeing in the community, we need to act and behave that it is. This is the right thing to do.
As I have also said before, I can assure you that we make decisions based on the best advice and the best information available to us at the time. When we get new information, we review and react. And we will continue to do so.
While government clearly has a role to play, so do you.
You have done so well so far. The Chief Constable has reported that apart from a couple of cases that you will have seen reported in the media, respect for the current measures is high.
Of course, we need to avoid catching the virus in the first place. We know how to do this. Staying at home as much as we possibly can. Wearing a face covering whenever possible. Keeping our distance from others. And washing our hands as often as possible.
But if sadly we do catch it, or if we are instructed to self-isolate by the contact tracing team then we must do that. This is how we stop the spread deeper into our community.
Your response when we asked people who had visited high risk venues to come forward to be tested was amazing.
People who the contact tracing team have asked to self-isolate did so. The way they have responded has been incredible. Well over a hundred should be leaving self-isolation at the end of this week as long as their Day 13 test is negative.
The response of the families and staff connected to the case at St Mary’s Primary School was what enabled us to identify and isolate so quickly.
All of these actions were examples of people stepping up and doing the right thing. Their actions helped us protect other people and the most vulnerable in our community.
I would like to thank them again for this commitment to their Island.
What can you do?
- Stay at home unless it is ESSENTIAL for you to go out.
- Wear a face covering if you HAVE to go out.
- Come forward if you have been at a high risk venue at the times we announce.
- Self-isolate if you are required to do so.
- Contact 111 if you have any COVID symptoms
- If you have been asked to shield or shielded during the last lockdown, please do so again.
And of course it goes without saying by now that it is the basics that are so incredibly important. Wash your hands and keep your distance.
Just before I go to questions, please remember that from midnight tonight, we will see the tightening of the measures in place as I announced on Monday.
Garden centres will have to close. Hardware and building suppliers will only be open to trade customers.
It is probably worth me making quite clear that despite a flurry of excitement on social media this morning, there has been no change to our border position. On 5 January, I announced that we had moved to Level 5B of our borders framework. Nothing has changed on that.
And I will reiterate that we STRONGLY discourage any travel off island. If people do decide to travel after tonight, we cannot guarantee what their return might entail. Depending on events, we may have to change the procedures relating to returns with very short or even no notice.
Thank you for those questions.
All things being equal, we will hold our next briefing on Friday. But if there is a reason to hold one sooner then of course we will.
If you have any COVID symptoms then call 111.
I will leave things there for today.
We can get through this if we work together, support each other and make the right decisions. And if we remember the basics:
- Stay at home;
- Before you go out, ask yourself if it is essential;
- If you do go out, wear a face covering if 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.