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Chief Minister's Statement on COVID-19 - 29 April 2020

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Good afternoon 

It is good to be back with you this afternoon. I should say at the start that I will have to leave the press conference before the end to join a video conference with colleagues from the United Kingdom, Guernsey and Jersey. But I will be able to leave you in the capable hands of the Health & Social Care Minister.  

I am grateful to the Treasury Minister for taking the briefing yesterday. There is some excellent cross-governmental work going on to get money out to support businesses and workers in these difficult times. We know that there is still work to do, but colleagues from Treasury and the Department for Enterprise are working tirelessly to get it done.

Today, the Minister for Health and Social Care and I are really pleased to be joined by Debbie Brayshaw who is the Director of the Children and Families Directorate of DHSC. Before I hand over to Debbie, I would like to invite the Minister to update us on today’s statistics.

Thank you, David. More encouraging statistics. As we have said from this lectern all too often, we need to look beyond daily numbers and see the trends. At the moment, the trends also are painting a positive picture.

But we must not lose our determination to continue to supress this virus. We have done so well. We are still doing well. And we must continue to do everything we can to keep pressing the curve down.

Before I hand over to Debbie, I wanted to reiterate a point that is personally very important to me.

When we changed our measures last Friday, we did so for two distinct reasons. I took you through my thinking on them at the time, but it is worth just going over them again.

The first reason we made the changes we did was related to our wellbeing. You have heard me say a hundred times now that dealing with COVID will be a marathon not a sprint. We need measures that are effective – of course – but that are also sustainable.

We simply cannot lock down our community forever. Lockdown – especially when taken as seriously as you have been taking it – has consequences on our mental health and can – as the Chief Constable told us last week – lead to increases in real issues in our society, including domestic violence and mental health calls.

The Council of Ministers and I are committed to doing what we can to mitigate these risks. This is why we will be publishing our approach to next steps before the end of the week.

I should also mention that the Council of Ministers will be considering a paper tomorrow regarding sports and recreation. People have told us how important this is to them. People have told us how they believe there is more that they can do while respecting the social-distancing rules. We have heard them. We have asked for legal and clinical advice and hope to be able to make announcements again before the end of the week.

The second reason was about the economy. We have made no secret of that. We need the economy to restart. We will of course do everything we can to ensure that this happens in a manner that is safe, measured and gradual.

As I said at the time, without an economy, we have no health and social care system. But the other effect of enabling sections of our community to return to earning a salary to support their families is about community morale and well-being.

At this stage, I would like to hand over to Debbie to hear about some of the admirable work that she and her colleagues have been doing to increase support, advice and assistance for some of the most vulnerable members of our Island community.

Thank you, Debbie. And please pass on my personal thanks to your colleagues. You are doing remarkable – and incredibly important – work during these difficult times.  

I unfortunately need to step away now, but will hand over to the Health & Social Care Minister who will take questions.