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Chief Minister's Statement on COVID-19 - 22 April 2020

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Good afternoon 

I am delighted to have been joined today by the Chief Constable. The police are a crucial part of our efforts to keep our population safe. I am grateful for what they have been doing.   

Before I invite the Chief Constable to update you, I would like to go back to a couple of the points we made yesterday. And before that, I will ask the Health & Social Care Minister to take you through today’s statistics. I know that he also wants to follow up on a point from yesterday’s questions.

We made some important announcements yesterday afternoon. We have been listening to what you have been saying on social media, through emails, and through phone calls to me and the team. We have also debated this in detail in the House of Keys earlier today.  

This has felt like a game of two halves. There has been a section of our community who has supported the changes we announced yesterday. Others have told us that we have gone too far too soon. I know that some people are scared. I understand that.  

We did cover a lot of ground yesterday. The Council of Ministers still has some final decisions to make tomorrow on some of the detail. We will be publishing more guidance detail today and throughout the rest of the week.  

But for now, I want to make a few points that I hope will reassure you.  

Firstly, I know that many of you do get your news from UK radio and television stations. I know that you have been seeing the terrible situation there.  

This is not the situation that we are in on the Isle of Man. As of lunchtime today, a snapshot from our health and social care teams shows: 

  • Staffing levels are at around 90%. And as we heard from our Matron Lyz Howard ealier this week, we have been overwhelmed with offers from staff to go the extra mile and work extra shifts where necessary
  • The capacity of our Intensive Care Unit is sixteen beds. We only have one COVID patient currently there  
  • We have everything we need in terms of key elements of personal protection equipment and other medical supplies 

As you can see, this is not the same as the United Kingdom. Our Manx situation – and your Manx resolve - has allowed us to make Manx decisions.  

Secondly, I think it is important for me to describe what will not happen as a result of the changes to our approach.   

We have NOT changed the rules on gatherings – you still must NOT meet with people outside of your household. 

I would like to make a particular plea to parents on this. Please ensure your children know the rules. And that they know the risks. Young people are not immune to this virus. And if they do get together with their friends, they could well bring the virus back into your home and infect your family.  

We are NOT forcing people to go back to work. We wanted to provide the opportunity for some people to be able to return to the workplace if they are able to do so in a way that is safe. Employers have an obligation to work with their employees to ensure a safe working environment. If people feel that they are being pressured to work in an unsafe way, they should contact the Health & Safety at Work team – ideally by email - on That email should be on your screen now.  

We are NOT opening the floodgates to a return to work. We shouldn’t forget that large sections of our economy have been working throughout this pandemic. These include engineering, manufacturing, logistics, and agriculture to name but a few. What we are doing now is allowing construction and related trades to do the same if they chose to.  

I said it yesterday and I will say it again, we will be approaching this change with our eyes open. We will not hesitate to close down construction sites, retail premises, industrial units or any other premises where there is disregard for public or workforce safety. 

We are NOT changing our advice on staying home. Staying home when you can is still the best way you can help further surpress the curve. But you told us that you wanted to be able to decide for yourself how many times a day you can go for a walk.   

We have also seen the impact on society that the measures have been having. I am talking here about the increase in domestic violence and mental health calls. These are issues that are really important to me.  

There is no sign that the virus is going away any time soon. We will need to learn how to live with it. The changes we are making - to allow people that little bit more freedom - we hope will relieve some of these pressures and make this period of pandemic just that little bit easier, healthier, and more sustainable.  

The evidence has told us that you understand social distancing. All that we are changing is to trust you to make the right decisions for you and your loved ones. And to make the right decisions for your personal situation.  

And I know this may be stating the obvious, but if you are unwell, or if you are instructed to self-isolate, you MUST stay at home. 

We are NOT changing our advice to the most vulnerable members of our community. If you have concerns because of your age, because you are pregnant or because you have an underlying health condition, then please do not take any risks. Stay at home.

I would like to end with some shout outs.  

First, I received a lovely request from a gentleman asking for a shout out to the team carrying out the kidney dialysis service at both Noble's and Ramsey Cottage hospitals. So much essential medical care continues to be delivered, with our health and care professionals continuing to put patients first.  Thank you to everyone involved in delivering this lifesaving service 

Second, a shout out to Jayden Gaines who set a target of raising £100 for the Isle of Man Foodbank - part of Ramsey Rugby Club's fundraising efforts - by cycling 100 miles within two weeks through his daily exercise.  Jayden has exceed his target by more than 600% and counting!  Well done Jayden. 

Third, we have a shout out for eleven-year-old Skyler in Castletown.  Skyler is supporting our health service by painting rocks and selling them on her doorstep. Thank you Skyler - I have seen a picture of your handiwork and it looks fantastic. 

Thank you for everything you have done. You have achieved remarkable results. But we must not be complacent.  

As government we will be tracking the data daily. We will take any actions that we and our clinicians consider necessary to protect lives.  

We need you to continue to play your part. Even after Friday, stay at home if you can. It could still save lives.  

We will be trusting you to make the right choices. For your families, for your community, for your Island.  

Please Stay Safe. Save lives.