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Chief Minister's statement on COVID-19 - 22 June 2020

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Good afternoon

I hope everyone had a good weekend.

I’m happy to be back with you today, and as our children return to their schools – I am joined by our Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, Dr Alex Allinson.

I - like I am sure many of you - took great delight in seeing people meeting up with their loved ones this weekend to enjoy the simple pleasures that make our Island such a great place to live and work.

This morning my police colleagues informed me that the weekend went well. Bars and restaurants were busy with people happy to take the opportunity to catch up with each other – it was good natured with very little trouble. Thank you for this. And thank you for supporting our local businesses.

As an Island, we can be proud of the way our community has responded to this pandemic.

Now that our society is back up and running, it will mean that now more than ever we must be responsible and look after one another.

Today, I will share with you – our plans for the next stage - Stay Responsible. But more on that in a second.

Today, it falls to me to share today’s numbers with you.

  • The total number of tests undertaken is 6,022
  • We have had 5,994 tests returned. Which means there are twenty eight people waiting for results
  • There are no new cases today. Meaning that we are now on day thirty three of no new cases.
  • Our number of confirmed cases therefore remains at 336. We have no active cases.

This weekend, for the first time since March, we did not publish COVID statistics or the graphs we have all become so used to. Some of the eagle eyed folk people out there will have noticed this.

This is not a sign of complacency but a decision taken in light of a month without cases. Nothing more sinister than this. We will continue to provide these figures during the week. And we will of course issue an update at the weekend should one be needed.

As an Island, we tried to approach decision making in as transparent a manner as possible. We published our Stay Safe roadmap document some time ago so that you knew what we were doing and where we wanted to head.

We have approached the easing of restrictions in three clear stages.

First we asked you to Stay at Home. Secondly to Stay Safe. And today we will be heading into a next phase of Stay Responsible.

Despite a month without a new case - we must all stay responsible – we must be vigilant. And we must be prepared to act quickly in the event of new infections arising.

To help you - and so that we have a shared understanding - we are introducing five response levels. Each level has different actions that we will take to keep you safe. This document will be reviewed regularly as situations change locally and globally.

It will help us understand how to react should cases arise and how best to limit transmission. We would always want to do this in a proportionate way rather than return to lockdown and measures which have had such an impact on your lives. These would only be a last resort.

I hope that we will never need to use this plan, but we must be prepared to act with speed and conviction if necessary.

The details will be available to view on the Government website this evening.

Today, is an important day for our schools. This morning all children were able to return to their class rooms. I am sure that this has come as a relief to many households around the Island.

I would now like to hand over to the Minister for an update on how today has gone.

Thank you Alex. Please thank your department for me. I would also like to thank teachers and all other school staff, parents and of course children.

This is a significant day for all of you and I wish you well.

Last Thursday, I talked to you about the three measures that remain in place – our speed limit, our plans to exit the state of emergency and our borders.

Firstly, from today – the temporary 60 miles per hour speedlimit has been lifted as we return to our pre-COVID situation.

Any further decisions on the future of speed limits on this Island are now a matter to be decided by Tynwald.

Today, we briefed members on the path we will take to lift the state of emergency and I can tell you now that I plan to invite the Lieutenant Governor to exit the state of emergency after the final regulations are laid before Tynwald on Friday.

The Emergency Powers Act was used to help protect the population against the spread of the coronavirus. It gave the Government greater flexibility through strengthened legal powers. The decision to invoke these powers was not taken lightly - but was deemed necessary in this extraordinary chapter in the Isle of Man’s history.

And that just leaves our borders.

The continued closure of our borders is ultimately  the thing that is allowing us to open up our society.

We have created a Manx bubble where our schools are now open, our economy is gearing up and we can share a meal out with our loved ones again. My inbox is full with people asking me to keep the borders closed. And we are listening.

We are keeping a close eye on what does appear to be a steadily improving situation in the United Kingdom and many other countries, and I hope to be able to share the way forward next week.

To be clear, we are not ready to open the border. But I would like to be able to give you some clarity about the path ahead on this.  And please rest assured any changes will be modest and gradual.

Finally, I have been made aware of a party from Jersey - who entered the Island last week for work reasons.

We can confirm that they arrived on the Island legally. They had applied for and had been given an exemption certificate. This included an exemption from self-isolation subject to an adherence to strict protocols. The certificate clearly sets out the conduct required of the group while on the Island.

As part of the application they had submitted a risk assessment and a plan of how they would protect others during their visit. This plan had been agreed with the Department of Health & Social Care.

We are also aware that questions have arisen as to the party’s adherence to these requirements. This is being looked into and the police may decide to take a look at this.

The group have now left the Island.

We expect the small number of people that have been granted these exceptions - to follow them to the letter. We will not accept excuses.

For now, the Education Minister and I will take questions.

Thank you.

Thank you for joining us this evening.

No one can say there is no risk. But your incredible commitment and sacrifices have given us an Island that is as safe as it possibly can be.

Have a great week. And please keep on making responsible decisions for you and your loved ones.