Good afternoon everyone.
The pages continue to turn on the Covid 19 story – but unfortunately, a happy ending is not yet in sight.
We continue to wait for news that coronavirus is in retreat in other countries and the number of infections and admissions to hospital is starting to fall.
That day will come. But it is not here yet.
France and Germany have announced new lockdowns.
A study published this week by Imperial College London says the epidemic in England is accelerating, with the number of infections doubling every nine days.
That’s almost 100,000 people catching coronavirus every day - with cases rising in every age group and region.
The report warns that the measures in place have not prevented the ‘R’ number from increasing
Tuesday saw the highest daily death toll since late May, with 367 deaths recorded.
Scientists warn that the second wave of Covid has not yet peaked - and may be longer than the first.
Also this week, researchers have suggested that immunity against coronavirus may only last a few months after infection – based on a sharp fall in the number of people testing positive for anti-bodies.
What that means for the Isle of Man is continued vigilance. We must constantly scrutinise and adapt the measures we believe are right for our Island nation.
In the summer we eliminated the virus and maintained a Covid-free status for more than 100 days.
We now have a small number of cases among people self-isolating.
I can confirm that we have one new confirmed case.
The individual reported symptoms while self-isolating after travelling to the Isle of Man - and close contacts have been identified.
We have a test, track and trace system that allows us to monitor the situation closely - our health service has plans and resources to manage a further outbreak.
In the Island, people are living without social distancing, face masks or other daily restrictions. Schools and workplaces are open, events are being staged.
People can plan to enjoy themselves!
We are comfortably on top of things.
But it is vital we continue to assess the impact on US of events in the UK and beyond.
Back in the summer I imagine most of us thought that by autumn, the pandemic would be largely behind us.
Instead, almost eleven million people in the UK are living under unprecedented restrictions.
So, with the situation on course to become worse before it gets better, we are investigating all options in how we can re-calibrate our outlook. Further announcements will be made on the outcome from this work in the near future.
The Council of Ministers has considered a series of options to modify our testing strategy.
Yesterday we looked in detail at a number of options for modifying our testing regime.
Last week I promised we would look again at how we can help patients who travel to the UK for medical treatment on a regular basis.
Having to isolate for 14 days after each visit means some patients are in almost perpetual isolation – if they then travel within two weeks for another appointment.
The unhappy situation only affects a small number of patients - and we will act to help them.
We have agreed to a test on Day Seven for patients with two or more appointments in a rolling four week period. The same will apply to their escorts.
Providing the test is negative, patents and escorts will be released from isolation under the same rules as when we offered Day Seven tests for all returning residents.
We have also looked at a new regime for key workers who reside in the Isle of Man, who come and go for work purposes - but often find their periods at home are almost exclusively spent in self isolation.
We have agreed that these workers can also access a test on Day Seven - to be released from isolation after a negative test and allowed a level of freedom, subject to the same restrictions as the previous Day 7 test.
Both changes will be available as soon as the necessary legislative changes have been made which we expect to have in place early next week.
I turn now to Brexit.
I am sure many of you will be aware that negotiations to agree a new relationship between the UK and the EU have intensified over recent weeks
There remain, however, some significant areas of disagreement.
Both sides are eager to reach a settlement, to give businesses and people a stable environment in which to continue to trade.
But key differences of opinion remain - in particular to fisheries and the level playing field.
We remain in close contact with the UK Government and our friends in the Channel Islands - both at political and officer level.
We are keeping abreast of developments in the negotiations, and ensuring that our interests are protected and represented within the talks.
But we cannot make assumptions on the outcome of these talks.
Whilst there is room for hope, there is still the very real possibility that that they may yet fail.
There are now 63 days until the Transition period comes to an end.
New rules will come into force for the UK from 1 January 2021.
For many people there won’t be any change.
But if you visit the EU, trade with the EU or come from the EU then it is important to check if there is anything you need to do to prepare for these rule changes.
We have identified areas where our people and our businesses may need to do things differently.
We have refreshed our website to ensure that everything is up-to-date and relevant.
We have also updated our interactive Guide which is available at Gov.im.
And you will see information popping up on our social media channels.
A wide range of topics is covered.
They include our new EU settlement Scheme which enables EU, EEA and Swiss citizens to protect their rights to continue living in the Isle of Man
We should all check our passports, which need to be valid for at least six months when we travel.
We wouldn’t want to see any of our citizens stranded at a UK airport because they did not check their passport.
There are new rules to follow when travelling to the EU - including information on travelling with pets.
The website explains the new customs procedures and has information for export and import businesses.
This is just a flavour as there is too much to mention here.
It is all set out in the Website and Guide which offer an easy-to-use overview – and there are signposts to other documents and websites for anyone who needs further detail.
Now, it is not often we talk about scallops at the media briefing. But I want to mention the measures which we have put in place for the start of the King Scallop season on Sunday.
So many things about the pandemic are described as ‘unprecedented’ – but the word is apt.
We can see – almost literally – an issue coming over the horizon.
Crews from Scotland and Northern Ireland who are licensed to fish in Manx waters, use our harbours.
As our borders are closed we have to put in place security and safety measures to ensure visiting crews do not breach our border restrictions.
The scallop season is important to our local fish processing sector and we have made arrangements for the catch from visiting boats to be landed.
It has been quite complex to arrange but the basic rule is straightforward - visiting fishermen will be allowed to tie up their vessels in Douglas and Peel, but must not disembark for any reason.
Officers have had close contact with their counterparts in other jurisdictions to ensure the measures are understood.
We welcome the visiting fishermen – but this year under a new regime.
There will unfortunately be fencing and some security staff at the harbours – creating I suppose, a tangible border.
It may feel and look a little strange.
But we have no active cases of Covid-19 in the community – and we want to keep it that way.
The Isle of Man’s Borders are currently closed to non-residents - and that includes fishermen.
The tentacles of the coronavirus pandemic are indeed reaching into all aspects of normal life.
But I can confirm one thing that will stay the same: Peel Commissioners’ firework display will go ahead as normal from the breakwater tonight. Organisers have worked around the new security measures.
It seems Peel is the place to be. Some of the roads will be closed for a parade and local events before fires are lit on the beach and the display begins.
If you are going, enjoy the evening.
And a happy Hop-tu-naa to everyone!
We are lucky that we can celebrate these festivals with family and friends in the usual way – there is no rule of six and we are free to visit our neighbours.
Our mantra for the pandemic is very apt for the weekend ahead:
Please stay safe. Be responsible.
And make the right decisions for yourself and your loved ones.
Have a great weekend everyone, thank you for your attendance and interest, see you next time.